Vol. 76, No. 2Cover stories

Bikers beware

Strategy targets motorcycle gangs in Atlantic Canada

As part of its joint approach to targeting gangs in the province, the RCMP and the RNC have developed a strategy to bolster their presence in popular OMG hangout locations. Credit: RCMP


Whenever outlaw motorcycle gangs (OMGs) in Newfoundland and Labrador get together, they can now expect unwanted guests – the RCMP and the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary (RNC).

As part of its joint approach to targeting gangs in the province, the RCMP and the RNC have developed a strategy to bolster their presence in popular OMG hangout locations and educate the community and front-line members about who these targets are.

They began by presenting to town councils about OMGs and what they tend to do when they move into a community.

"They've received much more information about what the reality is, and they're now on board and want to assist us so we don't let them get a stronger foothold than what they already have," says Sgt. Pat Roche of the RNC.

Based on what he's learned from the two agencies so far, the mayor of Gander, Nfld., Claude Elliott, has already modified bylaws to make it more difficult for OMGs to set up clubhouses. Before, OMG members could purchase any bar or club in town if it met all the bylaws. Now, council has the authority to deny them a permit.

"We don't have to give an explanation," Elliott explains. "We just say, 'No, we're not giving you a permit to operate there,' because we have that authority and it is the discretion of council."

Intimidation factor

The RCMP's Criminal Intelligence Section (CIS) in Newfoundland is also expanding its awareness strategy for front-line members. CIS created tools like a reference guide that profiles all known gang members in the province, intelligence support teams that serve as extra eyes and ears in rural communities, and a 1-800 OMG tip line that front-line members can use to share information. The RNC is also using several of these approaches.

"If you see something, you call that 1-800 number and leave some information," says S/Sgt. Jim Power of CIS. "Somebody checks the message, they send the information back to the contributor to be confirmed it's right, and that goes directly into the intelligence bank."

Sgt. Sue Efford of CIS says these initiatives are based on a need to increase intelligence on OMGs and also address what front-line members have been asking for – better two-way sharing of intelligence.

"We have received information submitted by front-line officers on OMG activities that has allowed us to more effectively focus our intelligence efforts," Efford says.

The RCMP and RNC will soon be partnering to form suppression teams, which will be overt, tactical teams that show up at common OMG gatherings to show both gangs and community members that the police are taking a stand against OMGs.

"I can tell you that sometimes they haven't even reached the clubhouse before the RCMP are there," Elliott says. "They know when everything is moving around so they're hitting them at every opportunity they can and it's great."

Biker 101

All police officers in the Atlantic region now have access to an informative video about outlaw motorcycle gangs (OMGs). The video is a condensed version of the Biker 101 presentations that are delivered to police officers in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador.

Now, instead of attending an organized presentation, police officers can view the video on their own time.

"When you're sitting there on shift and you have 10 minutes, you can watch the DVD in the middle of the night as opposed to trying to get members to talk to everyone," Crampton says.

In 10 minutes, the video brings the viewer up to speed on what outlaw motorcycle gangs are, what to look for when you pull them over, officer safety tips and more.

"It refers to OMGs in the Atlantic region and across Canada," says Supt. Joanne Crampton, who heads criminal operations for RCMP in Prince Edward Island. "It provides front-line police officers with information about OMGs in general and is a valuable investigative tool."

Videos were distributed last fall to each divisional intelligence officer in the Atlantic region, and they were then delivered to RCMP detachments, front-line RCMP members, federal RCMP members and municipal policing agencies.

– Mallory Procunier

Date modified: