Though the past year was challenging for the province as we responded to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Alberta RCMP Serious Crimes Branch (SCB) remained committed to serving our communities and ensuring public safety. Despite the trials of 2020, SCB employees were successful in advancing various criminal investigations and bringing those responsible before the courts.
The Alberta RCMP SCB is an investigative services branch responsible for leading and supporting complex investigations across the province. Within the branch are various units comprised of RCMP employees with specialized skills and training in the investigation of homicides, serious persons crimes, child abuse, multi-jurisdictional offences, or cases requiring advanced investigative techniques.
Major Crimes Unit (MCU) – The MCU is responsible for conducting homicide investigations. Over the past several years, Alberta's annual homicide rate has increased; the MCU led a record high 66 homicide cases in 2020, up from 55 cases in 2019. Homicide rates fluctuate annually. When communities are impacted by these serious crimes, local RCMP employees work with provincial support teams as well as community groups and leaders to address the root causes of crime. In addition to homicide cases, the unit also conducted 10 death or missing persons investigations and provided assistance in a number of other investigations across the province.
General Investigations Sections (GIS) – GIS was also busy last year, supplementing the needs of detachments with serious, complex, or multi-jurisdictional investigations. In 2020, the GIS provided support to detachments in over 200 cases involving assaults, sexual assaults, attempt murder, and other serious matters. As well, investigators assigned to Child Advocacy Centres throughout Alberta helped to provide an important multi-agency "wrap around" service to victims of child abuse, conducting over 1,400 child interviews.
Persons Unit (MPU) – This unit reviews all RCMP missing persons investigations for quality, timeliness, and to ensure appropriate action and resources are being implemented by the organization. In 2020, there was a total of 4,452 missing persons reported in RCMP jurisdictions; of these reports, the MPU reviewed 2,344 files and was involved in a total of 809 cases. Fourteen persons are yet to be found.
"The services provided by the SCB are available to all RCMP detachments across Alberta and, in some cases, other law enforcement services within the province," says Supt. David Hall, Officer in Charge, Alberta RCMP Serious Crime Branch. "The unique and specialized expertise that the SCB brings to policing in Alberta is critical to the safety of our communities."
The SCB also contains a range of unique policing services which support investigations across the province, including a specialized interview team and the Truth Verification Section. The Branch also helps to identify and manage high risk offenders through its Behavioural Sciences Group.