Police unit to focus on street crime

Six cops and two civilian analysts focused on smashing the drug and bootlegging trade “at all levels” will set up shop in the Yukon this…

Six cops and two civilian analysts focused on smashing the drug and bootlegging trade “at all levels” will set up shop in the Yukon this spring.

“What the public is going to see is an increase on the focus of enforcement on the street-level crime that’s happening,” said Yukon RCMP Insp. Guy Rook at a government-held news conference on Monday.

“This team is a Yukon-wide team,” he said.

The unit — called the Street Crime Reduction Team — is the Yukon RCMP’s first group tasked exclusively with breaking up street and drug-related crime. It should be in place by April, said Rook.

Some unit officers will be new, others will be shifted from their current jobs to focus on the “small percentage of people committing the majority of crimes,” he said.

The team’s two civilian analysts will field complaints from the public, then process that information to provide a “better focus” on individuals that are known drug dealers and bootleggers, said Rook.

“The additional resources allow us to focus specifically, using the intelligence, on the street-level activities,” he said.

“We may decide . . . that an area where criminal activity and criminals gather needs a patrol presence, needs uniforms, so that these people see and the public sees that we’re visible.”

The Yukon Justice department will spend $1.4 million over the next three years on the street-crime team.

That investment is “yet another demonstration” of the Yukon Party government’s commitment to drug and alcohol enforcement and prevention, Justice Minister Marian Horne told the news conference.

“The RCMP’s street crime reduction team is another tool the government of Yukon is using in its fight against crime; this is part of our commitment to addressing abuse of drugs and alcohol through the substance abuse action plan,” she said.

“We have no tolerance for drug dealing.”

The team will target dealers where they gather and the associated criminal activities that tend to follow them, said the Yukon RCMP’s chief-commanding-officer Dave Shewchuck.

“The street crime reduction team is a proactive compliment to our traditional policing approach, by focusing on crime hotspots and high-volume offenders,” he said.

The team will respond to problems identified by citizen complaints, said Rook.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for us to be able to use better the information we’re getting from the public,” he said. “I really encourage the public to take the opportunity to engage us.”

People who wish to report drug-related criminal activities should contact Crime Stoppers, he said.

Work began on the team several months ago, said Rook.

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