During a 12-week pilot project designed to deter and respond to crime in Calgary’s inner city, the joint patrols have taken wanted criminals, drugs and weapons off the streets while also providing help and support to vulnerable people and area businesses.

As of April 22, two teams of Calgary Police Service (CPS) officers partnered with Alberta Sheriffs responded to more than 1,600 calls since the project began on Feb. 28. Approximately 1,200 of those calls were proactively initiated by officers while patrolling in previously identified hot spots.

During that time, officers laid 109 charges and executed 1,524 outstanding arrest warrants. While many offenders incurred multiple charges and possessed multiple warrants, the totals still represent a significant number of criminals apprehended by officers – and, in many cases, taken into custody.

“I am pleased to see Alberta Sheriffs have hit the ground running with their CPS partners to improve the safety of people who live in Calgary’s downtown core, work there or visit to shop and dine out. This shows that having more boots on the ground patrolling the streets makes a difference, as law enforcement officers can immediately step in to stop illegal activity as it’s happening. We will do whatever it takes to keep our streets safe.”

Mike Ellis, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Services

The deployment of 12 sheriffs is part of work being done by the provincial government’s Calgary Public Safety and Community Response Task Force. The sheriffs deployed in Calgary are working with existing CPS beat teams to increase the visible law enforcement presence in the inner city and to provide an integrated response with partner agencies that provide support to vulnerable people.

“The Alberta Sheriffs who have joined our beat teams have been a welcome addition to our organization and the downtown community. We have heard many reports of officers being thanked by citizens for their presence and ongoing work to establish safe public spaces within our core.”

Mark Neufeld, chief constable, Calgary Police Service

These teams have also transported people directly to local shelters or social agencies. For example, sheriffs and police transported 23 people in March. Also in March, for 31 cases involving open drug use, officers connected people with a social services organization that offered access to further supports.

“Every Alberta Sheriff signs up to help protect Albertans, whether they live in a small town or a big city like Calgary. I’m proud of the work we have done for this community so far, and I look forward to even more successes in the coming weeks.”

Farooq Sheikh, chief, Alberta Sheriffs

The sheriffs’ deployment is scheduled to end on May 31. The sheriffs and Calgary police will then evaluate the pilot project using data and feedback from the community about perceptions of safety before deciding on any next steps.

Examples of community policing during the pilot:

  • A team patrolling near the Calgary Drop-In Centre spotted a man they recognized as wanted on warrants. During a search following his arrest, officers seized drugs suspected to be fentanyl and methamphetamine, and a scale. He was charged with possession for the purpose of trafficking and the drugs were sent for testing.
  • Members working on Stephen Avenue spotted two men standing on a wheelchair ramp inside a fast food restaurant and saw them exchange plastic bags in what looked like a drug deal. Officers seized suspected methamphetamine and fentanyl from one of the men, as well as bear spray and a hatchet during a subsequent search after arresting him.
  • Officers at a CTrain station along the 7th Avenue corridor saw a man drop a cigarette and approached him about smoking on the platform. Officers noticed the man holding a small plastic bag and trying to hide it as they approached. The members arrested the man and seized the bag, which appeared to contain fentanyl. The man provided another person’s identification card when he was taken into custody, resulting in charges for obstruction and impersonation, as well as several outstanding warrants and breaches of release conditions. The contents of the bag were sent for lab testing.