LONDON, ONT. -- A new London police task force created to take guns used in crimes off the streets, laid its first charges Thursday.

The London Police Service (LPS) Crime Gun Task Force says it recovered all or parts of three weapons - including a loaded rifle - as well as cash and drugs at two addresses where search warrants were executed on Tuesday and Wednesday.

At a Dundee Place address police seized $25,000 in cash,  211 cereal bar edibles valued at $6,359, marijuana bud valued at $1,890, shatter pens valued  at $1,755 and and electronic cash counter.

Meanwhile on Simcoe Street police seized:

  • loaded .22 calibre rifle with a magazine containing seven rounds of ammunition
  • sawed-off portion of a shotgun stock
  • sawed-off portion of a rifle barrel
  • 12 gauge shotgun slug
  • four 410 gauge shotgun shells
  • spent .22 calibre casing
  • 10 x .22 calibre ammunition
  • digital scale
  • about two grams of cutting agent

Three London residents, ages 23, 26 and 27 were jointly charged with possession for the purpose of selling under the Cannabis Act. The 27-year-old was also charged with failing to comply with an undertaking.

A 44-year-old London man was charged with two counts of careless storage of a firearm or ammunition and possessing a firearm other than restricted or prohibited knowingly not holding a licence.

The new Crime Gun Task Force commits several officers to act on tips regarding the whereabouts of illegal guns, which the public or police suspect could be used in crimes.

“We’re really just asking members of the public to notify us if they have any information in relation to crime guns on the streets of London,” states LPS Const. Sandasha Bough.

Police union says action needed

The new task force is welcomed by Rick Robson, the executive director of the London Police Association.

His agency represents front-line officers.

On Wednesday, Robson highlighted a 167 per cent increase in crimes involving people carrying firearms in 2020. The figure was first publicly reported at a London Police Services Board meeting in March.

Now, Robson is making it clear just how dangerous the streets have become, while also crediting officers for what he calls a “very low use-of-force rate” in resolving crime gun situations.

“The level of professionalism, training and responsibility to come across somebody, that you know you have to gain control of, that has a loaded handgun. This is unfathomable!”

While Robson welcomes the task force, he hopes more can be done on a national level to “find out” where crime guns are coming from. If not, he worries public and officer safety could be increasingly at risk.

"You can’t suspect 100 per cent of the time that (a situation ) is going to be resolved peacefully and without injury, that’s just not realistic.”

To help spread the word about the new task force, Bough says LPS has implemented a social media hashtag.

“Any time we make an arrest, we take a gun off the street, we are using that hashtag, #LPSGUNTASKFORCE. And, it’s just to keep members of the public apprised as to what’s going on, on the streets of London.”

The reporting of potential crime gun locations will still be completed directly through police or Crime Stoppers.