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Leaked Police information

Six people, two businesses charged after police probe

Saskatoon Police crest

A former member of the Saskatoon Police Service and a former employee of the RCMP are among six people and two businesses charged in a long-running investigation into access to restricted police databases.

The charges arose out of a 3½-year joint investigation conducted by the RCMP, the Saskatoon Police Service and the Regina Police Service.

Police will not identify those charged until they have made their first court appearances on May 2.

Three people and one company will appear in Saskatoon provincial court, two people and one company will appear in Regina provincial court and one person will appear in Fort Qu'Appelle.

RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Brian Jones said the charges, which were laid under a law regarding unauthorized use of a computer, allege police-controlled databanks were illegally accessed.

The criminal investigation is ongoing, said acting deputy chief Gary Broste, of the Saskatoon police.

"There's a possibility of other charges forthcoming. . . . There may be other persons charged," Broste said.

One of those charged was an active member of the Saskatoon police at the time of the alleged offence, Broste said. That person is no longer employed by the force.

Broste said the person was not fired or did not ask to resign as a result of the investigation, but he would not say if the accused has retired because he didn't want to reveal the person's identity nor jeopardize the investigation.

The former RCMP employee was not identified as a regular uniformed officer. Jones said the employee could have been a uniformed officer or a civilian member, such as a dispatcher or forensics expert, or a public-service employee, such as a secretary.

The accused was asked to resign, Jones said.

One other RCMP employee who was being investigated was also asked to resign and two others have been disciplined, Jones said. None of those three have been charged, he said.

RCMP, which led the investigation, would not draw a link to a long-running joint probe into the unauthorized release of confidential information from government departments and police agencies to private investigators. But the Regina Leader-Post has learned the charges stem from that investigation into two private detective firms.

On May 2, 2002, RCMP executed search warrants at Robinson Investigations, located in Regina, and Robinson Investigations Ltd., located in Saskatoon, and seized thousands of documents stored in 83 bankers boxes. According to court documents, the firms are separate entities and operate independently. Both are headed by former veteran RCMP members. The firms did not respond Tuesday to interview requests.

Jones said the length of the investigation wasn't unusual. "We want to make sure that we're doing it right. There was a large number of documents that had to be reviewed. There were some questions raised in court about documents. And as some of those other issues resolved itself, that added to the length of time of the investigation," he said.

In the aftermath of the searches at Robinson Investigations' offices, several law firms, who were clients of the companies, claimed the seized documents were subject to solicitor-client privilege. On July 4, 2002, a judge in Regina ordered all the files be turned over to a court officials pending a determination of the issue. Since then several applications have been heard by the courts, and some documents have been released over time to the RCMP.

Earlier this month, further details emerged during an arbitration board hearing in Regina. It was examining the resignation of an officer who was originally one of four Regina officers under investigation as part of the probe. They've since been cleared of criminal wrongdoing.

During that hearing, it was revealed RCMP had wiretaps of police conversations and used a deceptive search warrant at Robinson's offices. Regina police Chief Cal Johnston testified RCMP told him the search was being done under "subterfuge" and the warrant didn't accurately portray the nature of the investigation.

Several Regina police officers and Robinson Investigations' employees are suing the RCMP, claiming "malicious and negligent" conduct by the Mounties in the investigation.

Project Compstat leads to drop in break-ins

Police optimistic trend will continue

A communication-driven police strategy to douse crime hotspots has resulted in a 43% drop in break and enters within targeted areas.

Saskatoon Police Service launched the Compstat pilot project in January in three police districts centred around downtown, the north end and the northwest corner of the city.

Through March 31, preliminary police statistics record:

  • One-hundred-fifty-nine fewer break and enters in the first three months of the year, compared with the same period last year, or 42.9% fewer
  • Almost one-quarter, or 51, fewer assaults
  • Twelve fewer armed robberies, which is a drop of 63%
  • More than one-quarter fewer auto thefts -- that's 38 more vehicles not going for joyrides or to the chop shop
  • About one-fifth, or 61, fewer incidents of mischief or wilful damage

"We are certainly optimistic that the trend will continue," said Sgt. John Woodley, who heads the break and enter unit of six investigators.

The pilot project focuses on break and enters, armed robberies and disturbances.

During the same three-month period, break-ins declined about 16 per cent across the rest of the city.

Drug violations in the three targeted districts, meanwhile, have risen by seven offences, or almost 13 per cent, while arsons have tripled from three to nine violations.

The numbers are preliminary and subject to further verification because of an unrelated police database crash.

Compstat stands for Computer Statistics, but it's communication -- among police units, front-line constables, even provincial courts -- that makes the difference, said Sgt. Brian Shalovelo, co-ordinator of Compstat.

The program is up for review in July, when the police service will decide whether to expand Compstat citywide or abandon it.

"The whole program is a different way of doing business," Shalovelo said.

Within the break-in reduction trend, downtown has been a particular success story, Woodley said. Business break-ins in the city centre had been a particular problem until police caught one particularly prolific suspect, he said.

Police have recently charged break-in suspects as old as 40 and as young as 11.

In the case of solving and preventing break and enters, Compstat works like this:

Woodley scans break-and-enter reports as they come in, noting trend areas and common operating methods. Community input is critical to gathering key information.

A few weeks ago, a Mayfair resident informed police of several men ringing his doorbell, then asking him a question that seemed made up on the spot. The resident watched as the same man rang doorbells up and down his block.

Over a couple of days, police checked the suspects' ID and, during a surveillance operation, caught suspects unloading goods into a home associated with the suspects.

"People on patrols are just waiting for this kind of information," Woodley said.

"Because cops love to catch bad guys."

He cautions that statistics can be deceiving. The release from prison of a few break-and-enter artists, for example, could in the future lead to a spike in break-ins.

Compstat has won over Mayor Don Atchison, the police commission chair.

"It puts resources where they're most needed. My inclination would be to carry forward with it. The movement so far has been tremendous."

Formation of a street-crime unit last year has also given police extra staffing power, Atchison notes.