A spokesman for the Kelonwa RCMP says a police warning to out-of-town gang members to stay away from Kelowna over the B.C. long weekend was likely “too little, too late.”
Const. Kris Clark said of the 150 people arrested over the weekend, a large number were gangsters, many of whom appeared to have come from out of town.
Despite media reports earlier this week that gang members may have in fact heeded a warning by the RCMP and the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit on Friday to stay away, Clark said there were plenty of gang members identified by police here over the weekend—members of, in Clark’s words, almost every gang imaginable. He noted three gangs in particular, the Hell’s Angels, the FOB (Fresh Off The Boat) gang and another gang that calls itself FOBK (Fresh Off The Boat Killers).
“The warning may have been too little, too late,” said Clark.
He said the police will likely issue the same warning heading into the B.C. Day long weekend again next year but plan to re-evaluate when they issue it.
While Clark praised the work done by security inside the grounds of the popular Centre of Gravity Festival in City Park that took place on the weekend, he said outside the grounds local police were kept busy, especially by drug dealers and people who had too much to drink.
“Probably the biggest problem that we saw over the weekend was public intoxication,” he said, adding that was the reason many more than 150 people arrested were taken into custody.
That number—while Clark described it as “what we expected”— was up nearly one third from last year.
He also called the level of underage intoxication “quite troubling” this year and gave an example of a 16-year-old girl who was so drunk she could not give her name, date of birth of phone number and had to be taken into custody for her own protection and to receive medical attention.
Thousands attended the three-day Centre of Gravity music and sports festival, which annually attracts a large crowd of teens and young adults.
Clark said in total, the police opened more than 1,000 files over the long weekend, up substantially from the 727 files opened by police during the same weekend last year.
Despite that, Clark said the event played out as expected with the large amount of alcohol and drug seizures.
He said many of the arrests were also for drug and drug trafficking offences. One concern for police was how drugs made it one the festival grounds despite security bag checks and searches at at all gates. Clark said that was being investigated.
He would not comment, however, on reports of a large drug seizure in front of the Lagoon’s condo towner downtown on Saturday night.
In addition to it’s own security, festival organizers hired police officers to patrol and Clark said there were plenty of local officers on site as crowds grew especially for the nighttime activities on the festival grounds.