Sask. says stats show targeted policing teams taking drugs, weapons, offenders off the streets

Members of the Prince Albert Police Service watch during the opening of the new downtown station in 2019. -- Herald file photo

The provincial government says investments in municipal and RCMP teams that target certain types of crime are improving safety across Saskatchewan.

These include the municipal Crime Reduction Teams (CRTs) and Saskatchewan Trafficking Response Teams (STRTs). CRTs target street gangs and prolific offenders who have a minimum of 15 sanctions, while STRTs investigate drug, weapon and human trafficking.

According to statistics from March to August of this year, municipal CRTs across the province seized over 3,600 grams of methamphetamine, 33,025 grams of cocaine and 1,036 grams of fentanyl, as well as 73 guns and over $160,000 in cash.

Officers also executed 46 arrest and 50 search warrants, made 110 arrests and laid 494 charges.

“We applaud these officers for the incredible work they are doing to remove guns and drugs from our streets and violent offenders from our communities in order to make Saskatchewan a safer place to live for everyone,” said Paul Merriman, minister for corrections, policing and public safety.

During the same time period, municipal STRTs have opened 61 human trafficking files and initiated 47 human trafficking interventions.

Prince Albert, Saskatoon and Regina have CRT and STRTs.

Provincially-funded RCMP programs include the Saskatchewan Enforcement Response Teams (SERT) – this includes CRTs and STRTs, along with the Warrant Enforcement and Suppression Team (WEST).

WEST has one team based in Prince Albert and another out of Saskatoon and Meadow Lake. These officers are dedicated to high-profile offenders, such as those involved in gangs or violent crime, with outstanding warrants.

“These highly skilled teams bring value to policing operations through their specialized training and experience, which allows them to quickly address violent groups and individuals threatening community safety,” said Supt. Glenn Church, the officer in charge of SERT.

The Saskatchewan government highlighted ongoing investigations into fraudulent firearm purchases in Prince Albert.

In July, two people were charged following the search of a home in the city. Investigation by the CRT determined a suspect bought a gun with a stolen credit card and possession and acquisition license.

From March to August, RCMP’s CRT, STRT and WEST seized 23 firearms, over 2,620 grams of methamphetamine, 1.608 grams of cocaine and 1.023 grams of fentanyl.

But the government’s recent investments into policing have been met with criticism.

Late last year, the province announced it’s creating a marshals service. Just last month, it began its search for a chief marshal ahead of the team’s expected operations in 2026.

This team, consisting of about 70 officers, will add to Saskatchewan’s police presence by responding to areas with high crime rates, arresting offenders with outstanding warrants, and targeting farming-related crimes.

The Opposition NDP said it would scrap the marshals service and invest that money into existing police forces and addictions.

“Local police forces and the RCMP do great work keeping our communities safe,” said Nicole Sarauer, corrections, policing and public safety critic.

“The government should be investing more money into local police forces and the RCMP, as opposed to creating the Saskatchewan Marshals, a whole new bureaucracy.”