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A male RCMP officer pictured at bottom right sits in a room with full of computer screens and other RCMP employees.

Civilian investigators coming to RCMP

Civilian Criminal Investigators have joined the RCMP, brining with them their technical know how and skills to fight cybercrime and financial crime. Credit: RCMP


The RCMP has created a new investigator – one with cutting-edge skills – to support investigations into financial crime and cybercrime where criminals steal from, threaten, defraud and extort thousands of Canadians each year.

A total of 35 Civilian Criminal Investigator (CCIs) are expected to be employed by Federal Policing by spring 2022 to support investigations.

Employees in this new role will have specialized skillsets and up-to-date experience in fields such as computer science and financial markets. They will join the Financial Crime-Integrated Market Enforcement Teams (IMET) and Cybercrime teams within the Federal Policing unit, but will be assigned to teams in Quebec, Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia. Some have already been hired and started training.

"Federal policing has such a huge mandate and we've been working on how to best complement the capability to those teams and ensure that those teams have ongoing access to the necessary specialized skills and knowledge to fight crime in the 21st century," says Lori Wilkinson, the RCMP's Director of Workforce Management and Modernization.

High-tech skills

S/Sgt. Gurinder Dhanoa is a member of the Federal Policing Criminal Operations Cybercrime Unit, which is responsible for high-priority cybercrime investigations.

Cybercrimes include everything from online thefts of personal consumer information, bullying, child sexual exploitation, to large-scale attacks on financial institutions. They can be perpetrated by a single individual or organized crime groups.

"Cybercrime investigations are highly technical and multi-jurisdictional," says Dhanoa. "We need people with the skills who can trace, for example, the transactions between computers that could be located around the world."

In 2020, Statistics Canada reported that more than 63,500 incidents of cybercrime were reported to Canadian police agencies – a 318 per cent increase compared to 2014. That number is likely greater when you consider that only a small percentage of cybercrimes or fraud are reported to police in Canada.

Also, a report by the cyber-security company Emsisoft says Canada had 4,257 ransomware attacks in 2020, resulting in reported losses totalling hundreds of millions of dollars.

Dhanoa says the RCMP has to keep up with the technology and innovation of cybercriminals and having CCIs and experienced police officers work together is a positive step.

"I see the CCI program as a win-win. We have to keep pace with the evolving technology and the new investigators will help build a partnership between the complexities of the cybercriminal world and traditional policing practices," says the 26-year RCMP veteran.

Preparation and powers

The CCIs will conduct Criminal Code investigations and have limited peace officer status.

"That means they have the powers and authorities to enforce certain provisions of the Criminal Code. While they are not armed and will not make arrests, they will play integral roles in enforcement activities, for example, interviews, warrants and participating in site searches," says Lisa Jackson, manager of Workforce Modernization.

Kim Begley and Natalina Keats oversee the development and delivery of operational training for Federal Policing.

Their teams have been working closely with subject-matter experts across the Federal Policing program to develop and implement the training and tools necessary to effectively prepare and support the new CCIs.

The CCIs will follow a prepared curriculum where they will receive instruction in police sciences and additional training and coaching in investigations practices.

"Federal investigations are large and complex files. We want to ensure CCIs are prepared and have the support to do the job we hired them to do," says Begley, Officer in Charge of Federal Policing Training Services.

She says, like all RCMP police officers, CCIs will gain additional Federal Policing-specific investigative skills as their careers progress.

"A significant amount of work has gone into developing a fulsome training curriculum for the CCIs," says Keats, a manager in National Learning Services, Learning and Development. "Our goal is that they succeed and thrive in their role, so that we can retain them and their skills for years to come."

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