This past weekend heralded the Battle for the Border 2 mixed martial arts fights in Cranbrook. During the first event, held last September, RCMP brought in a special gang unit called the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit, and this weekend was no different.
Cpl. Pat Prefontaine said that the unit, which works out of the Lower Mainland, was brought in to assist the local detachment with the event.
“We brought them up as a resource,” Cpl. Prefontaine said. “The RCMP is an intelligence lead organization and they have the recent information on gang activity and we thought this was a good opportunity to bring them up to Cranbrook.”
Prefontaine said the last time they were here, in September, the community seemed to appreciate the presence.
“We got very positive feedback from the people and we thought we’d bring them back a second time,” he said.
Sgt. Mark Jordan said his unit’s focus is on members of organized crime and gangs that pose the highest risk to public safety. The unit was formed in 2000 and the uniform team has been around since 2007.
Jordan has worked as a policeman for the last 22 years and for the last four years has served as one of the supervisors for teams at CFSCU.
The unit travels around to different areas where it is needed, and works in Kelowna, Prince George, Penticton, Vancouver Island and other places.
Jordan said the reason the RCMP requested the unit be brought in is its experience.
“Although there’s a number of people that are regular people attending these events that have no ties whatsoever to organized crime,” he said, “there are people that are associating with gangs and gang members at these events and we just want to make sure that they don’t pose a public safety risk at any of these events, so every member of the community can just enjoy it in a safe environment.”
Jordan said that his unit has firsthand information that members of organized crime own and operate some gyms where mixed martial arts training is taught.
“I want to emphasize that mixed martial arts fighting does attract a cross section of people and there are those people that are just normal athletes training in the sport,” he added.
Jordan said he couldn’t get into the specifics at the time, but said if there were rival gangs in the same area at the fights, members of the unit would take steps to make sure they don’t engage in any conflict at the event.
He said the presence of the gang enforcement unit has so far been enough to stop incidents from occurring.
CFSCU BC has about 400 members. There are different units within the CFSCU.
Six members of the unit were in Cranbrook over the weekend for the event.