Sports

Cops say organized crime ‘rampant’

The benches clear after an altercation at home plate between the Kitsap BlueJackets and Aloha Knights on Wednesday. Restraint was exercised by both clubs and their were no ejections. - Photo by Jesse Beals
The benches clear after an altercation at home plate between the Kitsap BlueJackets and Aloha Knights on Wednesday. Restraint was exercised by both clubs and their were no ejections.
— image credit: Photo by Jesse Beals

Combatting organized crime, prostitution, break and enters and vehicle thefts will be high on the priority list for Prince George RCMP in 2007, according to Superintendent Dahl Chambers.

Chambers presented his annual report to city council on Monday.

Two organized crime groups currently control the drug trade in Prince George – The Crew and the Renegades. The groups have been linked to a number of violent crimes related to the drug trade, including several murders in the city, Chambers said.

“Organized crime is significant here – it’s rampant,” Chambers said. “One group, called The Crew, is recognized by the courts as an organized crime group under law. We’ll be actively working to curtail their activity.”

The Crew have been linked to the sale of crack cocaine and methamphetamine – commonly called meth, crystal meth, ice or speed.

On Sept. 28, 2006 Crew enforcer Scott ‘Eric’ Brian Payne was sentenced to eight years in prison for two counts of extortion and one count of assault. Payne was convicted of cutting off a man’s finger and was involved in another incident when a man was attacked with an axe.

In 2007, the RCMP will be focusing on a crime prevention approach, Chambers said.

In 2006 there were 1,277 break and enters, and 2,307 vehicle thefts in the city, he said.

“We believe by changing to a crime prevention mode... we hope to reduce those by 10 per cent [this year],” he said.

One method police will be using is targeting known and repeat offenders.

“We have people who are responsible for hundreds of crimes in the city,” Chambers said. “It’s hard to fathom someone could steal 50 cars in a week, but that happens in our community.”

In addition, the bait car program is still in effect.

As part of combatting prostitution, police conducted three undercover sting operations against men who hire prostitutes – commonly called “Johns.”

Seventeen suspects were arrested and 11 were sent to a prostitution education program, or John School, run by the John Howard Society.

“We’re hoping education will work to curtail them [from reoffending,]” Chambers said. “[But] women are still being sexually exploited.”

RCMP received 600 complaints about prostitution in 2006, compared with 1,200 in previous years. However, that may just mean prostitutes are moving behind closed doors and adapting to prevent complaints against them, he said.

“The folks who work the street are not stupid. They walk and move along. There is no law against walking,” Chambers said. “I think perhaps it is not quite as visible.”

The RCMP are also working with groups in town helping women and girls leave the sex trade.

“This police department is looking at progessive approaches,” councillor Murray Krause said. “People who are marginalized have a chance to form a better relationship with the RCMP. That can only help your work and the city.”

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