How Saskatoon police homicide investigations have evolved
They have one of the toughest jobs on the police force and perhaps, one of the most rewarding. Anytime they are victorious, it means a family can start their journey to closure because someone is behind bars charged with murder.
Multiple times a year, the major crime section is called to a scene where a person has died. Each case has a team commander, lead investigator and file co-ordinator assigned to it.
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“I have two teams of four, those two teams investigate homicides and any suspicious deaths,” Saskatoon police Staff Sgt. Vince Ashmeade said. “Any things that are tasked to us, including RCMP investigations or municipal department investigations.”
Their work on certain homicide files is never done, and there is a member strictly assigned to historical cases, while other parts of the team will be dispersed to the scene of a homicide once it’s secure and the forensic portion is complete.
That’s not to say someone from major crime hasn’t attended the scene already to collect intel before the entire group moves into place, gathering as much evidence in the first 48 to 72 hours and they’re not doing it alone.
“Now every one of those files, every one of those homicides we’re frontloading with different members to attack different parts of the investigation,” Ashmeade explained.
“In 2006, there would only be two members called out for an investigation such as homicide. Now, I frontload it with between two and 20 members who will be working on that file.”
Frontloading is essentially a pool of police resources used to help solve these heinous crimes.
“Guns and gangs unit — we will utilize other members from general investigation, targeted enforcement,” Ashmeade added.
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Members from forensic identification and a technical team are also present as officers comb through social media, surveillance and canvas the neighbourhood for clues to why and how the homicide happened.
This strategy of frontloading has also been met with much success.
In 2006 for instance, there were eight homicides. Two of those remain unsolved. In 2016, charges were laid in connection to all 10 homicides that occurred in Saskatoon that year as a result of this ever-evolving police force.
“In 2006, there would have been two members called out, but other members in the office probably would have been attached to it in some capacity but now, we put our whole unit towards it,” Ashmeade said.
Frontloading was also used to tackle the two most recent homicides in the city – a homicide on Dec. 31, 2016, at 118 Cope Crescent in Stonebridge, the other occurring in the 100-block of Avenue P South on Feb. 14.
In both situations, an accused was arrested without incident and they remain behind bars as their cases navigate through the courts.
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