Apr 29 2013
CALGARY - RCMP investigators in Alberta and across the country are part of a nationwide revamp of the force’s federal policing operations.
The changes are happening behind the scenes, but a senior officer said they will allow the RCMP to better respond to organized and serious crime.
“We’re doing it to be a little more nimble,” said Supt. Roger Miller from RCMP’s K Division headquarters in Edmonton.
Although uniformed Mounties are a common sight in rural Canada, those officers work under contracts to provide local policing to provinces, territories and municipalities.
Less visible is the RCMP’s federal policing component, made up of specialized, usually plainclothes members investigating areas such as drug trafficking, financial crimes, national security and protection for Canadian VIPs and foreign dignitaries visiting Canada.
In Alberta, about 325 RCMP members work in federal policing, based mainly in Calgary and Edmonton. Until now, they were organized in specialized units tasked with investigating a particular area: commercial crime, drugs, proceeds of crime, financial market integrity.
However, the RCMP decided the model was too rigid and didn’t allow them to change and respond if crime trends changed.
“The silos were inefficient,” Miller said.
At the beginning of April, the RCMP began dismantling those specialized units. Instead, it is grouping together officers in multidisciplinary teams capable of investigating any kind of case under the RCMP’s federal policing mandate.
“It’ll be in and around what the intelligence tells us. In the past, it has been around a commodity,” Miller said.
“It’s a better way to address the higher priorities of the nation.”
Miller estimated it will take up to 18 months to fully implement the plan.
Although it’s an internal move, the RCMP redeployment affects other law enforcement agencies that have officers assigned to joint units that will disappear under the new plan.
The Integrated Proceeds of Crime Unit based in Calgary, for example, had municipal police members, as well as a Canada Revenue Agency employee and an assigned Crown prosecutor.
Although the RCMP has decided to change its internal workings, Miller said investigators from other agencies will remain in the new federal policing teams.
“As professionals we agree an integrated model is the way to go. Those positions are there, the doors are open,” he said.
The Calgary Police Service confirmed officers assigned to RCMP federal policing functions are staying put.
In 2004, the Calgary police undertook a reorganization similar to the RCMP, combining several specialty units in to larger squads: the homicide and robbery units became a unified “violent crime” team.
Calgary police returned to a model closer to the original one after four years, reinstating the homicide unit and other specialty teams.
However, Supt. Guy Slater said the experiment gave Calgary police more flexibility and said city police will support the RCMP’s move.
“From our perspective, we want to do everything we can to make their new model work as much as they do,” he said,
[The Canadian Press]