Blue Line


February 25, 2013  By Wayne Shorrock

1252 words – MR

Major case management training

by (Allan) Wayne Shorrock

The question of who needs major case management training (MCMT) is being raised by communities, the media, police service boards and even police services, currently and historically. The question itself is being considered from the perspective of community safety and the impacts of allocating valuable resources to this process, balanced with the challenge of operating efficient and effective police services.


The significance of the impacts of systemic MCMT is apparent when communities become aware that a serial predator may be targeting victims in their area.

The names Willie Picton, Terri-Lynne McClintic, Michael Rafferty, Russell Williams, Paul Bernardo or Clifford Olsen raise questions about the process of and applicability of major case management (MCM) practices in affected communities. Each name evokes the image of a predator, undermining public confidence and creating a climate of fear.

These serial crime investigations tax human resources and diminish community, provincial and federal budgets. All were complex and multi-jurisdictional, with evidence of all kinds to be collected, analyzed, prioritised and investigated. All these predatory suspects met the criteria for a major case requiring experienced, dedicated, trained managers and investigators.

The late Justice Archie Campbell’s report and recommendations, (Bernardo Investigation Review), published in June 1996, identified significant systemic failings in the investigation of serious criminal offences. Sixteen years later in November 2012, Commissioner Wally Oppal’s report “Forsaken” details systemic failings in the investigation of missing women in British Columbia.

Both reports contain recommendations that speak to the necessity for systems to ensure serial predator behaviour is detected, identified and proactively investigated to protect the communities where they prey. They also both identified the need for structured training dedicated to ensuring consistency in applying systemic approaches to managing major cases.

Campbell first articulated the need, recommending that “A major case management system is required for major and inter-jurisdictional serial predator investigations.”<1>

Oppal’s summary of recommendations for “enhanced police investigations” states requirements for “The provincial government (to) mandate the use of major case management for major crimes and that the director of police services develop these MCM standards in consultation with the police community and through a review of best practices in other jurisdictions.”<2>

There are marked similarities of experiences in the cases, including the challenges police faced in the investigation and management of a major criminal investigation.

Campbell advised “specialized training for senior officers in charge, senior investigators and inter-disciplinary support teams”<3>. Oppal recognized the importance of police training when he acknowledge the challenge “… to fully implement such a major shift in policing practices, especially bearing in mind the training requirements …”<4>.

Campbell indicated in his report that “This is a review of the work done by local and provincial law enforcement and forensic agencies during the Bernardo investigations.”<5> The inquiry was ordered by Lieutenant Governor H.N.R. Jackman to review various aspects of the investigations leading to charges against Bernardo.

Campbell introduced his report by stating “Between May of 1987 and December 1992, Paul Bernardo raped or sexually assaulted at least 18 women in Scarborough, Peel and St. Catharines and killed three women in St. Catharines and Burlington…<6>

“The Bernardo case, like every similar investigation, had its share of human error. But this is not a story of human error or lack of dedication or investigative skill. It is a story of systemic failure.”<7>

Campbell’s inquiry came up with 27 recommendations. The Ontario government established a committee which would evolve into the Major Case Management unit within the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services, Public Safety Division.

A guideline and manual were developed by operational investigators, which became a regulation supported by the Police Services Act of Ontario in January 2005.

In Ontario, for identified criteria offences, police services follow the Ontario Major Case Management (OMCM) manual and use the ministry approved software Powercase. Our research indicates as of this date, Ontario is the only province to legislate MCM training and “the only place in the world to have this type of computerized network for case management.”<8>

To complement the OMCM and respond to Campbell’s identified need for training in this area, the Ontario Police College (OPC) was tasked with designing province wide, police specific training and plays a key role in delivering MCM training to police.

OPC provides an OMCM “Principles and Practices Course” for members of the command triangle and software training on Powercase. It has delivered the course at the Justice Institute of British Columbia and routinely hosts students from police services across Canada and the rest of the world.

In Ontario, recognizing the scope of demand for MCM training, OPC offers its course at the college, sends instructors to train at police services and provides OPC lesson plans and teaching materials and finds supporting resources within communities to deliver the content to services in accordance with the course training standard.

The OMCM Powercase course can also be OPC or service delivered. It is conducted by two operational officers, seconded from Ontario police services, to ensure current field practice and investigative procedures form part of the curriculum.

OPC also offers an understudy program, allowing a police service to identify a member (sworn or civilian) proficient in Powercase to attend a 13 day course at OPC. They are tested on their knowledge, provided the course materials, then mentored and coached as they co-deliver a 10 day course with the OPC seconded officers. The understudies can then deliver the training at their police service in accordance with the course training standard.

Since 1996, the OMCM system has been credited in high profile cases such as the Holly Jones murder, Cecilia Zhang abduction and murder, Bandidos massacre and Russell Williams and Tori Stafford investigations. Each shared similarities with the Bernardo investigation and posed unique challenges for investigators.

MCM techniques and opportunities to enhance training continue to evolve and Ontario’s stakeholders in public safety are currently examining police practices, looking to find effective, efficient future focused strategies to deliver to police services in this fast paced, ever changing environment.

Stakeholders and police leaders continue to recognize the six principles fundamental to the Police Service Act of Ontario, which declares “The need to ensure the safety and security of all persons and property in Ontario.”<9> MCM and the concurrent training of members is one methodology to meet this objective.

“The pattern of predatory violence was clear and should have met with a swift and severe response by accountable and professional institutions, but it wasn’t,” Oppal stated in his review of the missing women inquiry <10 >.

After 16 years of applied, exceptional experience using the Ontario MCM model, the question of who needs the training appears to have a very clear response; those who wish to best serve their communities.


1 Bernardo Investigation Review, Report of Mr. Justice Archie Campbell, June 1996, Queens Printer, page 319

2 Forsaken, The Report of the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry, The Honourable Wally T. Oppal, QC, British Columbia, November 19, 2012, Executive Summary, page 149

3 Bernardo Investigation Review, page 319

4 Forsaken, Executive Summary, page 99

5 Bernardo Investigation Review, page 1

6 Bernardo Investigation Review, page 1

7 Bernardo Investigation Review, page 1

8, page 1

9 Police Services Act of Ontario, R.S.O.1990, Chapter P.15, Section 1

10 Forsaken, Executive Summary, page 4


Wayne Shorrock is a chief instructor in the Practical Police Training section of the Ontario Police College. Contact him at or 519 773-4488 for more information.

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