The Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods (SCAN) unit of the Alberta Sheriffs obtained a court order that took effect at noon on Dec. 19, giving them the authority to close the house at 136 15 Street North.
Under terms of the community safety order, crews boarded up the house, changed the locks and erected a fence around the property to stop anyone from entering until the end of the closure period on Feb. 27, 2020.
“Public safety is a top priority for our government, and we’re committed to combating criminal activity from all directions. I commend SCAN investigators and Lethbridge police for joining forces to help law-abiding residents feel safe again in their own community.”
SCAN began investigating the property in May 2019 after complaints from the community about drug activity.
SCAN confirmed drug activity was occurring, observing several drug transactions and a high volume of people coming and going from the property. SCAN investigators contacted the Lethbridge Police Service to work together on a strategy targeting criminal activity at that location.
During its own investigation, Lethbridge police obtained a search warrant in September 2019. They found a variety of drugs – including cocaine, methamphetamine and psilocybin mushrooms – as well as four imitation firearms, brass knuckles and bear spray. Police laid criminal charges against three people.
On Dec. 11, 2019, SCAN obtained a consensual community safety order following negotiations with the property owner, who does not live in Alberta.
In addition to barring anyone from entering the premises until Feb. 27, 2020, the court order places the property under supervision until Dec. 10, 2020.
The SCAN unit works with other law enforcement agencies to shut down properties being used for illegal activities. The Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods Act gives sheriffs the authority to target problem properties through civil enforcement.
Since its inception in 2008, Alberta’s SCAN unit has investigated more than 5,500 problem properties and issued approximately 80 community safety orders. The majority of complaints are resolved by working with property owners to keep criminal activity out of the community.