Nipping trouble in the bud

PSB endorses gang colours prohibition

Outlaw biker gangs have been a presence at Friday the 13th motorcycle rallies since their inception. They put police on edge, but they never seem to cause any trouble. (MONTE SONNENBERG Simcoe Reformer) Photo taken on Friday, Sept. 13, 2013 SunMedia

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Norfolk’s Police Services Board has shared a suggestion with Norfolk County designed to make Friday the 13th motorcycle rallies in Port Dover safer.

Police in North Bay and other communities have partnered with local bars, taverns and restaurants to enforce a “No gang colours, no gang clothing policy.”

Since 2016, any member of a recognized criminal organization wearing identifying clothing can be asked to leave a participating establishment. Failure to do so can result in trespassing charges and a fine as high as $2,000.

“My personal opinion is that anything we can do to keep the criminal element out of our community is a good thing,” Dennis Travale, chair of the Norfolk PSB, said Monday.

In recent weeks, Norfolk OPP have shared concerns about the large number of criminal bikers gathering in Port Dover for Friday the 13th and the potential this poses for violence.

Some gang members are rivals and may have scores to settle. Police worry for the safety of bystanders in a crowded environment such as downtown Port Dover on Friday the 13th.

There is a precedent for this concern.

In 2015, nine people died in a shootout at a restaurant in Waco, Texas, where an estimated 200 bikers from rival gangs had gathered to talk over their differences. Another 18 suffered knife and gunshot wounds.

In North Bay, participating bars, taverns and restaurants post notices that read “No gang colours, No gang clothing.”

“The presence of individuals wearing gang emblems and insignia can be intimidating to patrons who want to enjoy an evening out with their family and friends,” a North Bay Police Service news release says.

“Individuals who enter these establishments wearing clothing, patches or emblems that identify themselves as part of an organized crime group will be in violation of the house rules similar to a ‘no shirt, no shoes, no service’ policy. Persons found in violation of the ‘No Gang Colours / No Gang Clothing’ policy can be charged under the Trespass to Property Act.”

In North Bay, participating establishments are asked to sign a document authorizing North Bay police to enforce the No Colours provision on their property.

The PSB initiative follows on the heels of a co-ordinated media campaign designed to alert Canadians to the threat criminal biker gangs pose to public safety and community well-being. Law enforcement officials from across the country joined forces last week to share community service messages on social media and elsewhere underscoring the problem. The initiative was launched under the umbrella of the Canadian Integrated Response to Organized Crime (CIROC).

“Outlaw motorcycle gangs have extensive illicit distribution networks that consist of their chapters and support clubs,” Rob Gilchrist, Chief Superintendent and Director General of Criminal Intelligence Service Canada, said in a news release.

“It is believed these networks connect to over half of all organized crime groups in Canada.”

Law enforcement agencies that co-operate and share information under the CIROC banner include municipal and provincial police forces, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Criminal Intelligence Service Canada, the Canadian Border Services Agency, Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada, and other federal government departments.

The PSB agreed at its May 22 meeting to forward the North Bay initiative to Norfolk council.

MSonnenberg@postmedia.com

 

 

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