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Gang enforcement unit rolls out of Vernon

An officer blocks off a section of Pottery Road in Vernon following a shooting incident April 14, 2016.
June 01, 2016 - 7:00 PM

VERNON - Stepped up police presence appears to have had an effect on criminal activity in Vernon.

Members of B.C.’s Uniform Gang Enforcement Team were deployed to Vernon a couple of weeks ago to assist with an escalation in violence, including three shooting incidents and a violent break and enter all believed to be linked to a street level drug conflict between two groups.

Members were only in the city for three days, but spokesperson Staff Sgt. Lindsey Houghton says their presence was effective.

“I can tell you word spreads very quickly amongst not just the general population, but amongst people involved in the criminal lifestyle and those people who know they could be the targets of our members,” Houghton says. “Often times what we’ve found is those people will either stay in their house… or they will leave town, which of course has not just a suppressive effect but a cooling effect.”

During the course of their time here, officers made six arrests for offences such as driving while prohibited and breaching court conditions, Houghton says, adding the most notable arrest was that of a 16-year-old Vernon boy for possession of a firearm.

“That young person was connected, a little bit more on the periphery. We would classify that person as connected to the people involved in the ongoing conflict,” Houghton says.

It was a busy three days for the unit, with a total of 42 individuals checked by officers, 26 vehicles stopped and eight curfew checks on people with court conditions.

“We would defer to Vernon RCMP to comment on what the effect our presence had on their city, but in my position, I haven’t had any information cross my desk that there has been a return to the level of conflict there was before we attended there,” Houghton says.

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