June 4, 2014 6:13 pm
Updated: June 5, 2014 5:30 am

Piecing the puzzle together to solve city crime

WINNIPEG – They don’t carry a badge or a gun, but the work they’re doing could help Winnipeg police catch criminals and even prevent some crimes.

Global News got an exclusive look inside the WPS crime analysis unit to see how it works but was asked not to identify any of the employees because they’re privy to highly sensitive and confidential information.

“By identifying them, identifying their faces, we have the potential to make them vulnerable,” said Supt. Danny Smyth.

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The analysts are civilians with degrees in criminology, sociology or research methodology.

They take thousands of pieces of information, like the time and place a crime happens, as well as a description of the victim, the neighbourhood, even the weather, and try to establish possible patterns.

“We are looking at numbers, looking at data, looking at associations, putting pieces of the puzzle together to make a clear picture,” said unit supervisor Cindy Brown.

It’s also part of an overall strategy toward “smarter policing.” Winnipeg police Chief Devon Clunis said last fall that he hopes to expand the unit, which currently sits at six members, to at least 18. Edmonton’s police force has 26 in its crime analysis unit.

Smyth said information compiled can help officers run more targeted patrols and respond to crimes faster.

It’s also helped establish hotspots and potential methods, information useful to frontline officers.

After a spike in residential break-ins in River Heights, five years worth of data was crunched into a report with maps showing hot spots, times the robberies were happening and a possible method.

“Based on the kinds of things being stolen, it helped us realize it’s probably not someone coming into the area with a vehicle,” said Smyth.

© Shaw Media, 2014

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