SPECIAL POLICE UNIT EVICTS FIRST PERSON UNDER NEW SAFER COMMUNITIES ACT
They don't kick in doors, but they sometimes hang notices on them.
Nearly a year after the province first announced the formation of a special squad of investigators, they've scored their first victory by evicting a person suspected of drug-related activity at a west-end Halifax apartment building.
"It wasn't a big deal, but we managed to have an eviction done in an informal process," Fred Sanford, director of the province's Public Safety Investigations Section said.
The unit is a five-person force assigned the task of helping police departments deal with complaints of neighbourhood drug use, illegal liquor offences, gambling and prostitution under the province's newly proclaimed Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods Act.
That act enables citizen complaints to be investigated. If the unit finds proof of wrongdoing, it can order an eviction or work with the property owners or tenants to resolve the matter.
In this case, a complaint was lodged against a tenant at 6701 Chisholm Ave. in Halifax of suspected drug use. Sanford's team investigated the complaint and determined the drug-related activity was potentially dangerous and approached the landlord.
They also talked to the tenant under investigation and helped him find a new place to live.
The unit even helped arrange counselling and addiction services.
"They ended up telling us this was probably the best thing that could have happened to them," Sanford said.
The investigation, which took about a month to complete and was finally resolved last week, eases concerns about illegal activity by law-abiding neighbours, but doesn't just shift the problem to a new locale, Sanford said.
"We were looking at the bigger picture," Sanford. "I'm kind of encouraged by this case and the way it worked out."
There's been little feedback from the community, but public safety investigators did post notices at the apartment building advising residents of what happened and what actions were taken. They were also asked to make confidential complaints if the illegal activity resumes.
Sanford said the Public Safety Investigations Section has several cases underway across the province, including more in metro.
Justice Minister Murray Scott announced the law, and the formation of the investigative unit, last July. [/FONT]