We're not Kelowna - and good thing

The weekend's gangland shooting in Kelowna sent fear rippling through the rest of B.C.'s larger cities that it could happen anywhere.

Police assure us that it was a targeted hit, not something random that would endanger the public, so we shouldn't be too jittery.

But the fact it happened in broad daylight, in front of a high-end hotel in a tourist town - and not in the dead of night on a side street in the Lower Mainland as it usually does - raises legitimate concerns there could have been a lot more collateral damage (i.e. bystanders shot).

There is no way of controlling such gang violence; it can occur anywhere.

But Kamloops citizens can breathe more easily for a few reasons.

Unlike Kelowna, Prince George, Nanaimo and the Lower Mainland, Kamloops has no established chapters of gangs like the Hells Angels, Renegades or the Red Scorpions, which was led by Jonathan Bacon, Sunday's victim.

Yes, there are associates and friends of gang members here, according to RCMP Staff Sgt. Grant Learned, but they don't yet have a base.

Also unlike B.C.'s other big cities, Kamloops is the only RCMP detachment in the province that has its own gang-intelligence co-ordinator, an initiative for which it won accolades in 2009 from the International Association of Police Chiefs.

The position was launched that year when police intelligence uncovered a movement to establish a chapter of the Independent Soldiers.

The gang-intelligence co-ordinator keeps tabs on the street level operations of various criminal groups in the area, working within the detachment to the criminal-intelligence task force in the Lower Mainland.

Another tool in the Kamloops RCMP's crime-fighting arsenal is that all prolific offenders are closely watched - and they know it, says Learned.

When repeat criminals are released from jail, they are warned they will be under the microscope here and if they don't want to clean up their acts, they should be prepared to spend more time in jail or go elsewhere, according to Learned.

Last year, Kamloops ranked 20th in a survey of crime stats by Maclean's magazine, an improvement from 13th out of 100 Canadian cities the year prior.

Prince George was the most-crime ridden city in the nation in 2010 with Kelowna in sixth place.

So while there's still room for improvement, we can take some relief that local RCMP are doing everything they can to keep gang violence out of town.

© Copyright 2018 Kamloops Daily News

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