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Alberta Government Enforces Strict Zero-Tolerance Policy for Repeat Violent Offenders

The Alberta government is adopting a zero-tolerance stance on crime, implementing new measures aimed at addressing repeat violent offenders.

The measures announced at a Sept. 11 news conference in downtown Edmonton include new targeted prosecution units set up in the province’s major urban centres and a stricter bail protocol. Minister of public safety and emergency service and former police officer Mike Ellis said the “absence of needed bail reform from the federal government” means the province will be taking its own “zero-tolerance approach” to crime.

Under Premier Danielle Smith’s leadership, the government’s first action will be to establish the specialized prosecution units in the biggest cities in Alberta.

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The Alberta Crown Prosecution Service will create teams with expertise to focus on the increased level of crime and the prosecution of violent criminals in Edmonton and Calgary, the province said.

“Prosecutors on these teams will work with law enforcement to focus on specific issues affecting these communities, including drug houses and available social supports, and how these factors affect the amount and type of crime occurring,” the Alberta government said.

The province is also changing the bail practice protocol for Crown prosecutors, stating they will be told to “prioritize public safety and take a tough approach on crime caused by repeat violent offenders and gang activity.”

“The protocol provides guidance to prosecutors to seek to detain any accused who is a threat to public safety, especially repeat violent offenders, unless the risk to public safety can be addressed by bail conditions,” said the province.

The triage practice protocol is also being terminated after first coming into effect in 2017. The protocol was used to assess all files to prioritize serious and violent crimes. The province said eliminating the protocol will address violent crime in the community by ensuring “all viable charges are prosecuted,” especially for those crimes involving violence.

These new measures are in addition to the hiring of 100 more street-level police officers in Edmonton and Calgary, increased investment in the Alberta Sheriffs Branch, and a $5 million grant the province is extending to Calgary and Edmonton to improve public transit safety.

“Violence, social disorder and open-air drug use is unacceptable, and we will do everything in our power to take back our streets and ensure they’re safe for Albertans,” said Mr. Ellis.

Minister of Justice and Attorney General Mickey Amery added that downtown Edmonton, while being filled with offices, restaurants, stores, and an “energetic business community,” has seen a “dramatic rise in criminal activity” that is causing “enormous damage” to the city’s economy.

Mr. Amery said the public is increasingly concerned that the justice system fails to hold criminals accountable, resulting in suffering for the community. He added that people ought to be able to feel safe on public transport and in the downtown core.

“Alberta has had enough. I refuse under my watch to give any perception that Alberta is a safe haven for criminal activity. I want to make it absolutely clear that criminals are not welcome here in Alberta,” Mr. Amery said at the news conference.

“Nothing is off the table. We will do whatever is necessary to make sure that criminals and especially repeat violent offenders are held accountable for their actions.”

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