Kelowna Mounties ask gangsters to make other plans
Kelowna's economy may rely on tourism, but not all visitors are welcome.
As part of their ongoing campaign against gang activity, Kelowna Mounties RCMP in conjunction with the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit issued a public warning to all members of organized crime who may be interested in an Okanagan vacation.
"You are not welcome here," said said Sgt. Lindsey Houghton of the anti-gang unit, during a Monday afternoon press conference.
"If you do come, include us in your weekend plans because we are including you in ours."
Using all the tools in their arsenal, police will ensure that gang members are kept to the highest standard of conduct during the Centre of Gravity weekend as well as the August long weekend.
“If they so much as jaywalk, we're going to stop them," Houghton said, noting later that their members will be conducting surveillance on both the land and water.
The fact is, he said, gangsters aren't stopping in the Okanagan for a vacation. They're in town to conduct business, and that business is harmful to the community at large, thus the aggressive approach.
Pointing to the gangland style slaying of Red Scorpion leader Jonathan Bacon outside the Delta Grand Hotel, Houghton said that the risks to all are significant.
Const. Kris Clark added that the Centre of Gravity festival and August long weekend combined tend to bring an extra 30,000 people into the city, and as the population rises so too do incidents of criminal activity.
"What we saw last year was a proliferation of drug trafficking within the city of Kelowna," he said.
With the aid of anti-gang unit, Kelowna Mounties could have a better advantage at sussing out gang members contributing to that problem.
Even the simple act of issuing a warning in advance of upcoming events is expected to help snuff out gang activity.
Houghton said that members of CFSEU are on a first name basis with the habitual criminals of B.C., and when they make the effort to issue a warning, gangsters listen.
Last year he had feedback from a gang member who noted that he didn't want to deal with police watching his every move, so he scratched his Kelowna adventures in lieu of something else.
That, said Houghton, is something all people would agree is for the best.