Attempt by gang to infiltrate police is no surprise, says Chief Hanson

Hanson won't offer details on investigation

By Richard Cuthbertson And Tony Seskus, Calgary Herald March 31, 2010

Don't be shocked Calgary police are investigating an apparent attempt by organized crime to infiltrate the justice system.

This according to police Chief Rick Hanson, who says it would be naive to think that gangs, as they grow more sophisticated, are not trying to influence the justice system.

But the police chief is staying mum on details of a Calgary police investigation involving just those types of allegations.

"We have investigated one incident," he said Tuesday. "It's ongoing."
Hanson refused to say what part of the justice system the investigation involves.

The police chief also talked about the subject on Monday before a parliamentary standing committee on justice and human rights, which was visiting Edmonton as part of a cross-country set of meetings in various cities.

"The reality is organized crime is very much sophisticated, it's increasingly sophisticated, they have proven in other provinces and other states that they're absolutely endeavouring to have influence within the system itself," he said Tuesday.

"I think for anybody to stand up and suggest that they should be surprised or shocked at the fact that we are doing an investigation, it's just not the way it is."

One of the members of the committee, NDP MP Joe Comartin, said no one has come forward with any suspicions about the judiciary being corrupted in Canada.

But he said the committee has heard some concerns across the country about the infiltration, including bribery, of some clerical staff and police officers by organized crime.

"It appears that we're at least at some risk currently of that having happened within police forces and within staff in the court system, whether it be in the police station or at the courthouse," he said.

The provincial justice minister said she's never had any concerns about her department and there are no internal investigations into whether Alberta's prosecutors or judges are being bought off by gang members.

"It's clearly not the case," Alison Redford said Tuesday. "We are not dealing with situations where there are investigations or reason for investigations to be going on."

John Dooks, president of the Calgary Police Association, said he hasn't heard of any such allegations involving police officers.

Gang expert Cathy Prowse of the University of Calgary said there appears to be a "predictable evolution" going on among organized crime groups and gangs.

She thinks overt warring between Calgary gangs was reaching a point where the unwanted attention was becoming bad for business.
Now, there seems to be a growing sophistication where the money-making activities are more paramount.

"Organized crime is insidious, but it's no less dangerous," Prowse added. "It's just a different type of dangerous . . . because it becomes largely invisible and, if it goes on long enough, it becomes entrenched invisible. And then you've got an enemy that's very tough to grapple with."

In the past, one gang was apparently able to obtain an internal police document that contained information about one of its rivals.

After police raided a Calgary area house allegedly tied to a gang in December 2008, officers reportedly found a document that listed several suspected members of another gang. The police document had mug shots of 37 purported gang members and their names.

Police conducted a review, but weren't able to determine the document's origin.

However, police spokesman Kevin Brookwell said it sparked the creation of a document control system -- with different levels of security attached to various documents -- to better protect information.

"We are currently implementing a document classification system that would be similar to what the RCMP and the Canadian military have," said Brookwell, adding there will be some confidential documents that won't even be permitted to be printed.

"We are hopeful that . . . this new document classification system will ensure that that type of document doesn't show up again in a search warrant or in the wrong hands."

the Edmonton Journal


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