It’s all about trust. It’s the most important aspect in a relationship between the police and the communities they serve.
It’s also true that you can’t have trust without some level of transparency. That is exactly the reason we invited Kevin Mills of the Mission Record into our ‘inner circle’. The business of policing involves protecting a lot of sensitive information and sometimes even the way we do that business must be protected.
That can sometimes make people feel like their local police are not transparent and instead, inaccessible. Therein lies the potential for the deterioration of that vital police/community relationship.
For the purpose of continuing to build on the positive relationship that the Mission RCMP has with the community, we wanted to walk that line of being transparent where we can invite the citizenry to take a step into that inner circle.
All of this was done in the name of building a stronger connection with the people we serve.
Insp. Steve CORP
OIC Mission RCMP
By Kevin Mills
In a small office near the back of the Mission RCMP detachment, a man sits, typing away on his keyboard and switching pages between two large monitors on his desk.
This is the workspace of the Mission RCMP’s intelligence analyst, and while it looks like any office in any company, this is where the process for keeping the community safe really begins.
The intelligence analyst is a civilian position and – for obvious reasons – he has asked to remain anonymous for this interview. He has held this position for the past 11 years.
“I work as an analyst for the RCMP and, of course, everybody’s mind always jumps to CSI-type stuff.”
He said in real life it’s not as glamorous as what you see on TV.
“I’m supporting police operations here in Mission, providing intelligence, analysis, crime analysis and the related products that help police do their jobs.”
His educational background is in IT – he’s a Microsoft-certified systems engineer – and has worked with the Chilliwack RCMP as an electronic file administrator and with the provincial homicide unit.
While in Chilliwack, he saw a posting for a new job in Mission.
“I saw this opportunity; it was something I always wanted to do. I had the required skills for it and it was a promotion … It was a pretty easy transition for me to make.”
He said police officers are busy enough patrolling, performing investigations and writing reports.
“Reports go, mostly, into the prime database and there’s live information that they input into that database. It’s a fair amount of work to get meaningful information out of that database to help direct operations through the RCMP.”
That’s where his role comes in.
Property crime is a good example.
“There’s a lot of property crime in Mission. That’s a big portion of the work that I do, doing analysis of property crime.”
So he will examine what the most active crime type is at the moment. Are there a lot of break-and-enters now compared to historical data? More auto thefts? What does the information tell you?
“So the stats point to maybe a crime type that’s more active now, say auto theft. Then I will look at the auto-theft stats, start reviewing files, look for patterns, try to identify potential suspects, then present that information to members at our meetings.”
Compstat (short for “computer statistics”) meetings take place every two weeks in Mission.
“There may be a bunch of stolen vehicles being dumped in a certain area. That may point to an offender maybe living in that area.”
Sometimes there is a distinct MO. By reviewing files, he might see that a bunch of driver’s side door locks have been punched out in a similar style or some auto thieves have a set of spare keys that are tampered with.
“They call them ‘jiggle keys’ or ‘shaved keys,’ and they’ll fit it into an ignition lock and then it’s easier for them to turn the lock and start the car. There’s a little bit more to it; they have to work at it a little bit. It works more for older vehicles,” he explained.
When there is a spike in auto thefts, he reviews those files and identifies small details like that and presents his findings.
“If somebody (a suspect) that I know does use that method, I’ll highlight that, make it known and do a little work-up on that person and see if they are around, living in this community, in jail. It’s part of the ‘intelligence cycle.’ ”
However, the information never comes in a straight line. He compiles pieces from here and there, information from victims, from the reports, from officers and even past cases to create a guideline to help an investigation.
“It’s almost like looking at it at the 30,000-foot level.”
He has the overall view while police officers doing the work on the street have a narrower focus.
“They don’t know what has been reported across town … It’s in the database – we are aware of it, but the guy on the street doesn’t know that. So it’s up to me to look at all that stuff, look for patterns and then come up with recommendations.”
Mission RCMP Cpl. Nate Berze called the analyst position one of the most vital tools for police officers.
“If we don’t have an analyst, if we don’t have the proper information, then our efforts are kind of aimless in a lot of ways. Whereas with the recommendations he’s talking about, when they filter down to the front-line members, we can target right in on areas, crime types, even on to prolific offenders,” Berze said.
When describing his job, the analyst summed it up simply, calling himself a “desk jockey.”
“We meet every two weeks. It takes me two days to prep the info for the meeting and, during the week and a half preceding the meeting, I’m reviewing the files looking for spikes in crime.”
He said it’s all about the information, and Berze agrees.
“Information is key to keep the community safe. We rely on the community to call in incidents and give us information,” said Berze, who encourages people to report crimes.
“People sometimes feel bad about calling because there are murderers and bad people out doing bad things elsewhere and they say, ‘I didn’t want to waste your time’ … but the reality is, the cavalry may not show up on your doorstep for a smashed sprinkler or a broken window but, at the end of the day, if we have that information it helps us to paint that picture.”
And Mission’s analyst is the lead artist.
While he doesn’t actually perform any hands-on police duties, the analyst said when the information he provides works, it’s a great feeling.
“It’s one of the most rewarding things of this job when your work actually helps solve a crime … We help protect the community.”
He says helping is the key. It’s not just an arrest, but it’s helping those who may need something other than jail time.
There is also the mental-health aspect to consider.
“We have a mental health liaison here and, typically, when someone is deteriorating mental-health-wise we (police) are usually the first ones to find out about it,” Berze said.
He said that, thanks to proper file analysis, they can see who may suddenly be creating a large amount of files.
“We will be able to tell, usually, who is creating the most calls from the general public, and those are the people who are going to require, from a mental-health point of view and an addiction point of view, these are the people who need assistance.
“Through stats and analysis, we are able to identify the most vulnerable in our community and be able to be a conduit to bring them to the resources they need,” Berze said.
– NEXT WEEK:
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