By Pioneer Staff

Markok Shehovac

Three of four recent assaults in Radium Hot Springs were the result of drug conflict, and are nothing more than cases of grown-up schoolyard bullies, said Columbia Valley RCMP Detachment Staff Sergeant Marko Shehovac.

In four separate instances, individuals were assaulted, sustaining injuries. None of the four alleged assaults was reported to police, but RCMP have followed up with those involved.

Three of the assaults were the result of conflict between people involved in drug activity. The fourth assault, however, concerned a 63-year-old man who was knocked to the ground and kicked by a group of adult males while on his way home from the store with an eight-pack of beer on January 29th.

Radium Mayor Dee Conklin said that since the incident involving the 63-year-old man, she has heard safety concerns from residents, council members, and a business owner.

Of course people are concerned. Safety is paramount in any community, Mayor Conklin said.

Staff Sgt. Shehovac said he doesnt believe regular Radium residents need to be worried about their personal safety in town.

Normally, the people they pick on are part of their own lifestyle.

The people involved in these conflicts arent organized gangs, but merely groups of grown-up schoolyard bullies, Staff Sgt. Shehovac said.

To call one specific group a gang is giving them too much credit. They like to intimidate people, they like to bully people, and they like to do it in groups.

For the most part, these bully tactics are used on other drug associates. Rival drug dealer activity is common in larger city centres, and is no different in a small community, Staff Sgt. Shehovac said.

Drug trafficking in the Columbia Valley is a problem not just in Radium, and one the RCMP keeps close tabs on. Local RCMP members regularly monitor roughly 5-7 groups of people dealing drugs, most often cocaine. Some of the individuals are local, but the majority of them relocate to the valley from elsewhere.

We have a number of people and groups in the valley that are vying to be the number-one supplier, he said. Especially during the influx of the summer crowd, theres a need to feed the desire for cocaine.

Of those groups monitored, most have had charges laid against them, Staff Sgt. Shehovac said. For example, during drug searches of the residences of known dealers, Columbia Valley RCMP have seized cash amounts of $40,000 and $20,000.

In my opinion, were doing a good job. Whenever we have the opportunity to make life uncomfortable for them, we do, to the point where some have left the area.

But when one group leaves, another usually comes in to fill the void.

These are people who have come in and have found a lucrative area for dealing drugs, Staff Sgt. Shehovac said. Others are always willing to come in and take their place.

One major obstacle the RCMP faces in cases like the assaults in Radium, is that people dont report them to the police. RCMP members often follow up on instances when they hear of them, but arent able to do much unless someone officially reports something.

Where we can take action, we do. In order for us to do an even better job, we need people to let us know whats happening. And it can be anonymous, Staff Sgt. Shehovac said.

Anyone can phone Crime Stoppers if they wish to be anonymous, or they can contact the local detachment and not give a name.

For those entwined in the drug lifestyle, Staff Sgt. Shehovac has nothing but tough love.

My message for those who are in that lifestyle is take the intimidation, take the bullying, and expect more of it. You will continue to be victims of your supposed friends.