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An SUV police cruiser is parked in front of a small white church surrounded by a flat snowy landscape.

Crime analysts uncover trends to support police work

Last year, crime analysts noticed a 60 per cent increase in church break-ins in Saskatchewan. Credit: RCMP


Behind the front-line RCMP officers in Saskatchewan, there's a team of crime analysts digging deeper into the details.

They look for connections between crime and search for trends, hotspots and potential offenders.

"The key is being intelligence-led," says Sgt. Scott Hunter, with the Crime Prevention Unit in Saskatchewan. "Knowing the trends, locations and times where certain crimes are occurring can help officers make their policing more efficient."

The analysts' work supports police officers who are often busy answering calls for service and focusing on the files on their desks.

"They can take a large amount of information that wouldn't be practical for a front-line officer to spend hours on and condense it into reports officers can use," says Hunter.

Using spreadsheets, databases, specialized software and information from across the province, crime analysts can help detachments be more dynamic and effective.

The information can help police organize patrols in crime hotspots, find potential suspects and engage with other detachments or specific units.

"We can flag crime patterns for specialized units to assist with," says Monica Deters, a crime analyst with the Saskatchewan RCMP. "Units like the crime reduction team, general investigation sections or even a gang unit."

Watching for crime trends also allows the RCMP to pass along that knowledge to the public.

"In the fall, we may see an increase in cabin break-ins and we can notify the public to remind them to lock up their cabins and ensure they remove their valuables," says Deters.

Last year, analysts saw an increase in break-and-enters at churches and places of worship throughout the province. In December, the RCMP issued a crime-pattern alert highlighting the problem and listing tips to help prevent future break-ins.

Between January and November, 64 incidents occurred in 55 churches across Saskatchewan — an increase of 60 per cent since 2019.

"Officers were able to create public awareness and engage the community and partners in the church community to help prevent further crimes," says Hunter. "If police are aware of a crime trend before it happens in their own area, they can be proactive and prepared and perhaps even prevent it."

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