Premier Ed Stelmach brought his tough on crime message to a Calgary gang summit and promised the province would work hard to target street gangs.
Stelmach announced yesterday three teams of provincial sheriffs will now answer to new masters as part of an effort to better co-ordinate police activity in the province.
The Fugitive Apprehension Sheriffs Support Team (FASST), Safer Communities and Neighbourhood Unit (SCAN) and the Sheriffs Investigative Support Units (SISU) will now answer directly to the Alberta Law Enforcement Support Teams (ALERT).
ALERT oversees all of the province's integrated policing units such as the gang unit and child exploitation task force.
Michelle Davios, a spokesperson for the Solicitor General and Public Security, said this should make the teams more efficient.
"It is so they can integrate and co-ordinate their efforts with these other agencies."
The FASST unit tracks down people with outstanding warrants, while the SCAN teams help remove drug houses and brothels from neighbourhoods. The SISU helps other police agencies in surveillance operations.
Liberal justice critic and Calgary-Buffalo MLA Kent Hehr said the new announcement is pure politics.
"This is just the government renaming forces to serve a political purpose. There are no more boots on the street."
The province also touted a new law coming into force next week giving police the power to remove illegally armoured vehicles from the road.
Officers can now pull armoured vehicles off the road for a mechanical inspection, and if it doesn't meet safety standards owners could face fines or even jail time.
St. Albert RCMP Insp. Warren Dosko said he welcomes the new law. He said the city doesn't have a typical gang problem, but drug crime in St. Albert is tied to organized crime.
Dosko said many higher-up gang members do call the city home, just like many other people at the top of their occupations. "We have lots of gang members living in St. Albert."
Dosko suspects many gang members living in the area have illegally armoured their vehicles, posing a risk to other drivers.
"These vehicles become like a tank on the road and they pose a much greater danger to anything they hit."
Kim Misik, with Alberta Justice, said the province has seen these vehicles in British Columbia and wanted to get ahead of the problem.
Hehr said he is happy the government is looking a little bit ahead, but they need to focus on what's in front of them.
"I am all for a law that would ban gang members from flying fighter jets as well, but how many gang members are there in Alberta with armoured vehicles," he said. "Let's be real here and focus on the problems that are already here."