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Wednesday, 10 February 2010

provincial witness protection program will help law enforcement combat Hells Angels

provincial witness protection program will help law enforcement combat gang activity, Calgary police Chief Rick Hanson said.The government announced in its speech from the throne on Thursday that it will establish a program that will offer short-term protection, as opposed to an existing federal program that offers long-term or permanent protection.Witness protection on its own may not induce members to quit gangs, but Hanson said it could be a deciding factor for gangsters looking for a way out. "It's just something that leaves the door open if they want to get out and are really serious about getting out," he said.Gang cases are typically difficult to prosecute because witnesses are afraid to come forward. Getting former gang members as witnesses may allow police to start gaining momentum in gang-related investigations, said Hanson."It creates opportunities to develop sources, individuals who would be willing to support the police in giving evidence against their associates," he said.
The program will be paid for and administered by the province and could be used for other types of cases, though gang prosecutions are seen as its most likely application. That arrangement not only spares police budgets the burden, but the separation also protects investigations, Hanson said.
"It's really critical when you use someone as a witness who has gang ties or affiliations, it's done so that it doesn't compromise the integrity of the investigation," he said.
While the concept is new to Alberta, other jurisdictions have used the same sort of short-term protection.

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