RCMP rural crime reduction teams in Manitoba are seeing results.
Earlier this year, the Manitoba RCMP added two new Crime Reduction Enforcement Support Teams (CREST) and expanded the team already operating in Manitoba's north.
Between March and mid-July, the three teams worked on 60 files leading to 68 arrests, and seized 46 firearms, more than 1,200 grams of cocaine and methamphetamine, and $76,000.
It provides additional capacity beyond our general duty members to proactively target criminals who operate in the rural areas of our province," says C/Supt. Rob Hill, who oversees RCMP criminal operations in Manitoba.
While officers at smaller, rural detachments may be busy answering calls for service and conducting patrols, the specialized support teams have time to study statistics and criminal intelligence, organize large operations and stay up to date on active arrest warrants and prolific offenders.
The teams of experienced investigators have a broad focus and often work on cases that involve drug trafficking, prolific property crime and firearms. They also support detachments during operations like warrant blitzes to conduct warrants for arrest and ensure compliance with bail or parole conditions.
We're freed up from calls for service that come in so we're able to be proactive and focus on issues in the communities we cover," says Cpl. Uriah Butler, who works with the CREST unit in Manitoba's north district.
Each team includes an analyst who studies crime trends, tracks prolific offenders and researches possible connections between crimes. The information can help develop leads in cases and inform police operations.
The analytical component is invaluable," says Hill.
The teams use a variety of techniques such as cultivating relationships with human sources, surveillance and regularly speaking with front-line officers at detachments about what they see in their work.
Intelligence-based policing is very important to what we do," says Cst. Jason Shaw with the CREST unit in western Manitoba. "
The assistance of people in our community and tips from the public help our work."
When multiple reports of stolen ATVs and snowmobiles occurred in western Manitoba, the CREST began investigating.
We identified multiple files that may have been linked and we were able to put together potential suspects and locations where stolen items may be," says Shaw.
When the investigation was complete, police recovered more than $100,000 in ATVs and snowmobiles, and arrested and charged two people.
The teams often collaborate with newer RCMP officers while working on cases. The CREST members will explore possible investigative techniques and help with information gathering and securing judicial authorizations.
We're able to leverage their experience and acumen as police officers to mentor the more junior members in the detachments," says Hill.
When an RCMP officer received a tip about possible drug trafficking, they brought the information to the west district CREST unit who helped develop investigative techniques to secure warrants and conduct a search.
CREST was able to provide some support and seized a large amount of drugs in a rural area," says Shaw.
The work led to the seizure of approximately 500 grams of methamphetamine and 100 grams of heroin.
The first CREST was started in Manitoba's north in 2011.