A homeless man, who was known to police for being aggressive, has been removed from downtown Cold Lake after the RCMP executed a search warrant on him. The man had been living on the streets of Cold Lake since fall of 2014, during that time police received an abundance of complaints about his behaviour. In fact, since July 1st, 2015, RCMP have dealt with the man 27 times, one incident lead to charges of disturbing the peace.
In that instance, the 44-year-old man was arrested after he harassed patrons of the Liquor Warehouse, asking them to buy him alcohol and give him money. He became so aggressive one customer was afraid to leave the store. The man received 30 days in jail following his arrest.
The police were able to finally get him off the streets of Cold Lake by executing a search warrant out of Saskatchewan, where the man is originally from. The warrant was for sexual assault and uttering threats. It took some time to finally execute the warrant, which needed the approval of the attorney general and the endorsement of an Albertan judge. Once those were in line, police arrested the man and took him in front of a judge where he was given six days in remand. During that time, police transported the man to Saskatchewan to face charges of sexual assault and uttering threats.
Stemming from the incident, Cold Lake RCMP have initiated a new approach in dealing with panhandling. The force will start by increasing patrols of the downtown area and adapt a zero-tolerance approach to vagrants; such that if a complainant is willing to make a statement criminal charges will be placed. Aggressive panhandling is considered a crime if the panhandler is not allowing a person to move.
RCMP will work with groups, such as the Friendship Centre, to develop a proactive approach and help reduce the number of people living on the streets.