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Smoking the competition

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Summer is barbecue season. For many that means throwing a few wieners on the grill, maybe a frozen hamburger or two.
    For Josh Bhikoo that means the right combination of meat, heat, smoke, spices and a whole lot of patience. This year it also means competition.
    Bhikoo, along with five of his Mason brethren from Calgary and Airdrie have formed the S.M.I.B. Competition Smoking Team. They have been successful at garnering sponsorship and now success at competition. On their first outing in Lynnwood Ranch Bhikoo, who specializes in brisket, placed fourth and the team placed 14th overall. They then went to Porkapalooza in Edmonton.
    “There were 51 teams from all over North America and some of the teams are professional, this is what they do for a living,” explains Bhikoo. “I placed 25th out of 51, which I think is impressive given the caliber of skill that was there. Some of these guys have been doing it for 15 years and spend 40 weeks a year on the road.”
    While it is competitive, there is a spirit of community.
    “The first place teams are just as friendly as the last place teams. They were willing to help and give advice,” said Bhikoo.
    Each team has a pit boss and typically they compete in four categories. These include chicken, ribs, pork shoulder and brisket. Bhikoo takes on the brisket, and while most say this is the toughest to perfect, he takes it in stride.
    “A lot of it is just trusting what you know and time. It is a 12-14 hour cook, and as long as you do it the same every time, and doing it the way people like it, there is a good chance you will do well,” he said.
    As a new team, they have done well getting support. They are first in Canada to be sponsored by Gorilla Grills, and the Silk Road Spice Merchant in Calgary supplies their spices. Airdrie Canvas is a sponsor and Lumberjack supplies wood chips and smoking pallets. Image Crafter designed their logo.
    The team is getting ready for the competition in Camrose in August called the Battle River Barbecue. After that, in September they are heading to Barbecue on the Bow in Calgary.
    When asked what his secret to his brisket is, he says Cuban honey is the bee’s knees.


Impaired driving laws debated as cannabis legalization approaches

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The Senate and House of Commons are debating changes to roadside testing in anticipation of legal marijuana in October and proposed amendments to the impaired driving bill in June are causing concern for both lawyers and police across the country.
    The federal legislature is currently making amendments to sister bills C-45 and C-46 to be passed in time for legalization on October 17. Bill C-45, known as the marijuana legalization bill, is concerned with amending the controlled drugs and substances act while Bill C-46 will amend the criminal code for when cannabis is legal.
    The Senate recently amended bill C-46 to allow law enforcement to conduct random alcohol and drug roadside tests. Under current laws, law enforcement may only conduct intoxication tests when there is probable cause, such as erratic driving, slurred speech, and other evidence.
    The Liberal government has said they disagree with the proposed amendments made by the Senate but the changes are still being debated in the legislature.
    Uncertain over what impaired driving laws will look like when cannabis becomes legal is another uncertainty facing police across the country, says Drumheller RCMP Staff Sergeant Kevin Charles. He says police are waiting for all information to be provided before coming up with best practices and operation.
    “I don’t think a whole lot of changes will happen. We can charge someone who is high with impaired driving right now, even before legalization of cannabis,” Charles says.
    “The driving evidence (for alcohol and drug impairment) is going to be very similar, both are impaired driving of a motor vehicle.”
    Lawyer Hugh Sommerville says the Senate’s proposed changes to impaired driving laws may be an issue for defence lawyers.
    “It causes some concern for many defence lawyers when the police do not need reasonable grounds and can just do something on a whim,” Sommerville says.
    “There are public safety reasons to give police officers quite a bit of power to investigate things like impaired driving, but one of the reasons for concern is there has been a history of targeting certain visible minorities and racial groups.”
    Sommerville says while the amendments seem like a reasonable tool for police to combat impaired driving it is a question of how fairly it is used with different groups of people. He says minority groups tend to be targeted more by law enforcement which creates the illusion they are committing more offences. For example, Aboriginal adults account for one in four admissions to correctional services while only making up three per cent of the population, according to Statistics Canada.
    But Charles says in Drumheller’s case this is not true.
    “We don’t make traffic stops based on the physical appearances of somebody, unless they appear to be intoxicated. It doesn’t come down to skin or gender, but comes down to abiding by the law,” Charles says.
    Random police stops already do exist in the form of check stops for impaired driving and these programs have proved successful, says Sommerville.
    He says police do not have time to stop random people on the street and administer tests, but police should be able to “enunciate some reason to want to do a test.”
    The government has yet to bring forward this motion in the House. Once it does, it’s expected there will be a debate and vote to send the message back to the Senate.

Rural crime app launched by Hanna RCMP

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A phone application which allows rural residents to report suspicious activity has been launched by the Hanna RCMP and Hanna Rural Crime Watch in an effort to combat rural crime.

The app allows residents to file reports of suspicious activity including uploading descriptions and images of suspects, vehicles and other details to Hanna RCMP and other users of the app. RCMP members then receive a notification on their work devices which can be used to aid their work. App users also see reports so they are alerted to watch for potential criminal activity.

“Crime was starting to become a problem in our area and that made me think to get something started and it just went from there,” says Hanna RCMP Constable Braden Marlow, who helped develop the software in partnership with Calgary developer Terrance May.

“I came up with this idea with Terrance to combat this and give people a resource which makes them feel like something’s being done about it – to do something front line that they can initiate and send out to members,” he said.

Although it is still being developed and described as being in its early stages, Cst. Marlow says the app has a lot of potential in being an effective tool for law enforcement in rural areas. The idea of crowdsourcing information from residents in this way is a first in the province and maybe the country.

And the idea is catching on. Officials from both Starland County and Drumheller RCMP have met with Cst. Marlow and have shown interest in developing their own apps for the region.

But the app is not a replacement to traditional policing methods.

“The one thing we’ve said since the beginning is that this isn’t a replacement for 911 but is an tool for people in rural properties,” says Cst. Marlow, saying residents still need to contact 911 but this tool can be used in to help assist officers and to alert other app users. The app allows other rural residents to react to members' reports of crimes and be notified to watch for suspicious activity in the area.

“If you see something wrong or a suspicious vehicle you can put the info down and it sends a message to us to use and we will monitor from there and set up a strategy.”

The application is called ‘Hanna Rural Crime Watch’ and can currently be downloaded on the Google Play app store.


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