Calgary Police Find New Ways to Fight With Calgary Gangs

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Calgary Police Find New Ways to Fight With Calgary Gangs

Careful readers will note a key four letter word in my title. It isn't, "Calgary Police Find New Ways to Fight Calgary Gangs," it's "Calgary Police Find New Ways to Fight With Calgary Gangs."

This distinction is important, because the first implies that the recent reorganization of the Calgary police reported by the CBC might actually enable our law enforcement to make some sort of meaningful progress in this arena. The second title—the one I actually selected—implies (hopefully) my guess that any "new" approach will simply be more of the same.

Combatting Gangs With Law Enforcement Crackdowns is Lose Lose for Calgary

If you've read any of my other blog posts that touch on the subject, you'll know my stance on Calgary Gangs: provide the proper social and community support for those in calgary most likely to be drawn into gangs while young, and you'll already have taken care of most of the problem. Calgary has actually made great strides in this area over the past decade, to the point that some on the Calgary police force actually acknowledge that "gangs" as Calgary knew them no longer exist in our city.

Instead, there are much smaller, looser, and shorter-lived associations being formed to fill the void left by the successful dismantling of Calgary's larger gangs—namely, the sale and trafficking of drugs. This brings me to my second standard response to news and breaking developments in the Calgary Police Service's response to "gang related violence:" take away the incentive to get involved in illicit drug trade, and the violence and criminality will all but disappear.

Gangs, organized criminality, and violence over "turf" and power positions within the drug trafficking hierarchy would pretty much cease to exist in Calgary if the intoxicants people use anyway were decriminalized and regulated. Dealing with drug use and abuse from a public health perspective instead of using a criminal justice approach would serve all of Calgary better. It would be more affordable than funding ever-changing law enforcement efforts, would be more effective at reducing violence, and is more in keeping with the principles of liberty upon which our democracy is founded.

That, in a nutshell, is why news of a reorganized Calgary Police force does little to inspire me. As long as they approach the violence Calgary experiences (and we should note it experiences very little violence compared to other Canadian and world cities) with an attitude that it can be contained by arrests, the same whack-a-mole problem of new "gangs" will keep being played.

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