The Alberta RCMP has established a Specialized Investigative Unit (SIU) in Grande Prairie, Alta. and surrounding areas to focus on investigating sexual assault and domestic violence offences. The SIU is a dedicated unit within the Grande Prairie detachment's General Investigation Section (GIS) that is taking a primary role in the investigation of complex domestic and sexual occurrences that are high risk and volatile in nature.
The pilot project of this team launched in 2020 and has now transitioned into a full time unit within the detachment after their first successful year in operation. The Alberta RCMP aims to implement similar teams and positions across the province. Most recently, Wood Buffalo RCMP created their own unit, Airdrie RCMP and Parkland RCMP have positions dedicated, and Strathcona County RCMP is currently in the process of developing new positions.
Grande Prairie has one of the highest reported sexual and domestic occurrence rates in Alberta for an RCMP jurisdiction. Within the 12-month pilot of the project, SIU took the lead on 227 calls for service, of which 148 were related to sexually-based offences and 48 to domestic violence offences. In the first year of the pilot, SIU completed additional investigational reviews which amounted to approximately 2,212 domestic violence files and 214 sexual offence files.
"Having a specialized team for sexual and domestic violence cases has been valuable for centralizing service and police responses within a high risk area and also for having the specific expertise needed to create a supportive environment for survivors," said Cpl. Lianne Bilodeau, Special Investigative Unit, GIS, Grande Prairie Detachment. "The SIU has had survivors come forward to report specifically because of the victim-lead and trauma-informed approach in place during investigations which responds to the specific needs of each survivor."
Developing and maintaining relationships with community agencies and partners is also imperative to ensure that police have a collaborative victim-centered response. This allows for more comprehensive service and support being provided to survivors who often experience the long reaching effects of their trauma. The SIU works closely with Children Services, Caribou/PACE Centre, Victim Services Unit, Probations Office, Odyssey House in Grande Prairie, the Crown Prosecutors Office, and other community victim service providers. This collaborative work with community partners is vital in the efforts to support survivors and bringing awareness to the public.
If you are a survivor of, or witness to, sexual or domestic violence or any criminal activity, please report it to local police or contact your nearest community-based Victim Services agency for appropriate support and to learn about your reporting options.
The Alberta RCMP is committed to investigative work alongside maintaining the safety and protection of survivors of domestic and sexual violence crime.
To learn more about the work of the SIU, watch the Alberta RCMP's YouTube video here: https://youtu.be/rzxrxalO4kc .