By Scott Pattison
By Scott Pattison
It’s April in Edmonton and the weather is more conducive for those who make their living stealing the vehicles of unsuspecting recreation centre visitors.
Southwest Patrol members have responded to far too many “theft-of” calls at the south-side sports complex. The file is soon dropped on Edmonton Police Service (EPS) Cst. Blake Schols’ desk. After overcoming numerous technical issues on site to obtain and study locker room and parking lot video, he quickly identifies a suspect familiar to him from his street work.
The tech-savvy constable confirms, with help from the video, that the young offender appears to be responsible for multiple vehicle thefts.
Once Schols identifies his suspect, additional team members jump on board to solicit complainant statements and move the investigation forward so charges can be laid.
“I’ve always had a passion for technology and getting involved in security installation complemented that,” said Schols, who formerly worked for a private security surveillance company.
“When I became a police officer in December 2009, I began to notice how vitally important video surveillance footage could be in helping police to solve crimes.”
The importance of that role isn’t lost on one of its principal supporters, EPS Insp. Brad Macdonald.
“It’s up to us to identify crime series and trends and having regular access to important video evidence now enhances our crime management efforts,” explains Macdonald.
“Our chief Crown prosecutor estimates he sees a 30 per cent increase in guilty pleas when quality video evidence is discussed in docket court. That’s huge for us.”
Schols misses “working the street” and attending “high priority” calls on occasion, but enjoys helping his team identify and interrupt a crime spree before it escalates.
“There’s a certain level of satisfaction in putting people behind bars for longer periods of time by delivering valuable video evidence to the Crown that increases the chances for a full conviction,” says Schols. “In the bigger picture, that’s helping to keep our streets safe.”
Scott Pattison is a communications advisor with the EPS Media Relations Unit. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org .