EDMONTON – The Alberta Law Enforcement Response Team (ALERT) has received $2.6 million in additional funding from the provincial government.
The increase means ALERT will now receive $29.1 million in provincial funding and be able to keep its current positions, the province said.
In December, the agency raised the alarm over a major funding shortfall. Provincial funding over the past three years had been reduced by one third, ALERT chair Shami Sandhu said.
READ MORE: ‘Certain areas aren’t going to be policed as well’ – ALERT worried about funding cut
ALERT said the decrease, combined with federal grant money running out, meant it would be forced to cut 72 out of its 268 positions.
“The funding increase allows ALERT to continue our pursuit of organized crime, and tackle serious crime related to gang violence, fentanyl trafficking, and child exploitation,” Supt. Charmaine Bulger, ALERT CEO, said.
READ MORE: Deadly W-18 powder seized during Edmonton fentanyl drug bust
The agency has a strong focus on organized crime. In 2014, it charged more than 600 people and seized $48 million in drugs.
“This government knows the valuable work ALERT does to help make our province safer each day,” Minister of Justice and Solicitor General Kathleen Ganley said.
“With urgent issues like the deadly impacts of fentanyl, we felt it was critical to maintain ALERT’s integrated approach to crime.”
READ MORE: Grow-ops, gangs and drug labs – ALERT’s largest drug seizures of 2015
In 2015, 272 Albertans died from a fentanyl overdose. Just four years earlier, only six deaths were reported.
A Bill was introduced this week at the Alberta Legislature aimed at fighting the number of fentanyl overdoses.
Also, 40 sheriff positions in the Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods unit and the Sheriff’s Surveillance Unit have moved to the Justice and Solicitor General department. The government said the transfer will allow ALERT to use its budget to focus on its core mandate of fighting organized and serious crime.