Long before the terrorist strikes of 9/11 created a massive demand for risk and investigation technologies, there was the case of Paul Bernardo.
Paul Kenneth Bernardo was suspected of more than a dozen brutal sexual assaults in Scarborough, Canada, within the jurisdiction of the Ontario Provincial Police. As his attacks grew in frequency they also grew in brutality, to the point of several murders. Then just as police were closing in the attacks suddenly stopped. That is when the Ontario police knew they had a problem. Because their suspect was not in jail, they knew he had either died or fled to a location outside their jurisdiction to commit his crimes.
The events following Bernardo’s disappearance in Toronto and his eventual capture in St. Catharines, would ultimately lead to an intense 1995 investigation into police practices throughout the Province of Ontario, Canada. The investigation, headed by the late Justice Archie Campbell, showed glaring weaknesses in investigation management and information sharing between police districts.
Campbell studied the court and police documents for four months and then produced a scathing report that documented systemic jurisdictional turf wars among the police forces in Toronto and the surrounding regions investigating a string of nearly 20 brutal rapes in the Scarborough area of Toronto and the murders of two teenaged girls in the St. Catharines area. He concluded that the investigation “was a mess from beginning to end.”
Campbell went on to conclude that there was an “astounding and dangerous lack of co-operation between police forces” and a litany of errors, miscalculations and disputes. Among the Justice’s findings was a key recommendation that an investigative case management system was needed to:
- Record, organize, manage, analyze and follow up all investigative data
- Ensure all relevant information sources are applied to the investigation
- Recognize at an early stage any linked or associated incidents
- “Trigger” alerts to users of commonalities between incidents
- Embody an investigative methodology incorporating standardized procedures
Hundreds of vendors aligned to provide this newly mandated technology, and eventually a vendor was tasked with making it real with the Ontario Major Case Management (MCM) program. With that, a major leap in the evolution of investigation analytics had begun. Today, the market leaders include IBM i2, Case Closed Software, Palantir Technologies, and Visallo.
Recently, the Ottawa Citizen newspaper published an indepth article on the Ontario MCM system. I recommend reading it.
Investigation analytics and major case management
The components of major investigation analytics include: Threat Triage, Crime & Fraud Analytics, and Intelligence-Lead Investigative Case Management. Ontario’s MCM is an innovative approach to solving crimes and dealing with complex incidents using these components. All of Ontario’s police services use this major investigation analytics tool to investigate serious crimes – homicides, sexual assaults and abductions. It combines specialized police training and investigation techniques with specialized software systems. The software manages the vast amounts of information involved in investigations of serious crimes.
Major investigation analytics helps solve major cases by:
- Providing an efficient way to keep track of, sort and analyze huge amounts of information about a crime: notes, witness statements, door-to-door leads, names, locations, vehicles and phone numbers are examples of the types of information police collect
- Streamlining investigations
- Making it possible for police to see connections between cases so they can reduce the risk that serial offenders will avoid being caught
- Preventing crime and reducing the number of potential victims by catching offenders sooner.
See Part Two of this series here.