Ident: Connecting the Dots with DNA

“Without a doubt, it is getting harder and harder to get away with crime,” this from Trent Emigh, the Staff Sergeant of the SPS Forensic Identification Unit. Trent has worked in the unit for 2.5 years, but has been investigating crime scenes throughout his career. He became an officer with the Saskatoon Police Service in 1985.

The Saskatoon Police Service Forensic Identification Unit, commonly referred to as “Ident,” works closely with Patrol officers and the Criminal Investigation Division (CID) throughout their investigations. Ident is responsible for attending crime scenes to   document evidence with photos and videos, collecting and processing evidence, documenting victims’ injuries and attending autopsies, submitting evidence to the RCMP Forensic Lab and securely storing exhibits during court proceedings. The unit also collects and stores criminal, as well as some civilian, fingerprints.

Crime scenes are processed by Ident for evidence relating to the identity of the suspect and/or to connect the suspect to the crime. What the investigators look for are viable DNA sources; blood, saliva (cigarette butts, gum, etc.), semen, sweat, dead skin, hair, fingerprints as well as shoe and tire prints. DNA is essentially a biological fingerprint.

One of the most beneficial aspects of Ident is the National DNA Data bank full of hundreds of thousands of people’s DNA that will never expire. If the same DNA is found at a different crime scene, the investigators can link multiple crimes often leading to a stronger case in court against a suspect. Emigh has seen it in action. “The most I am personally aware of is one offender who was linked by DNA to seven different scenes; three were from British Columbia, two were from Alberta and two were from Saskatchewan.”

DNA stands as solid evidence, but it’s not quick evidence…although many people have fallen victim to the “CSI Effect.” Crimes on T.V. dramas can be solved in seconds!…often using a hologram. That’s not how it works. Results take time. The DNA sample has to be sent away to a lab for analysis and results typically come back in 90 days.

DNA not only assists in solving recent crimes, but also historical crimes. “In Policing, there can be some challenges in pursuing historical charges, however DNA is sound and incredibly powerful evidence.” Emigh recalls a case from 2005; Police investigated three separate break-and-enters where the suspect had conveniently left his saliva behind. Unfortunately at the time, there was no matching offender profile in the DNA data bank. But this offender wasn’t a one-hit wonder. He committed another offence earlier this year. Once his DNA was submitted for analysis, investigators were able to link him to his previous crimes. He’s facing charges relating to those three, 12 year old B&E’s, as well as his most recent crime.

The National DNA data bank is growing as quickly as people are committing crimes. DNA profiles may soon be developed from exhibits that were previously deemed insufficient, as technology evolves. 3-D cameras and software now allow for more efficient recording of crime scenes, evidence and mapping. At the end of the day, innovations in technology and a growing DNA data bank are only making the career of a criminal less and less viable.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Behind the Badge: Chief Clive Weighill

On Sunday, Police Officers from across the country will gather at different memorials to honour those that have fallen in the line of duty. Those that have tragically given their lives were mothers, father, daughters, sons, sisters, brothers, cousins, friends and colleagues. They had interests and hobbies, passions… lives outside of the uniform they wore on a daily basis.

In anticipation of the upcoming Saskatchewan Police & Peace Officer Memorial, we wanted to show you a few of those men and women, and who they are #BehindTheBadge. Throughout the week, we are featuring officers who have sworn to protect our community and hope you will learn a little bit more about them as human beings, not just Police Officers.

—–

Having had dreams of being an auto mechanic growing up in Regina, things took a turn for Clive when his vehicle was stolen as a teenager. He can remember going into the Regina Police Service to file a report and speaking with an officer that seemed to genuinely care.

That interaction had an impact, and so when he saw a RPS recruiting ad in the paper, he threw his hat in the ring. “They were looking to hire 26 Constables very quickly. I applied on October 1st and was hired by October 31st,” he recalls.

As his career in Policing progressed, promotion was never something that he thought very much of, but stayed the path as different opportunities arose. Forty-three years later and a few moves up through the ranks, he is set to turn in his kit on October 6th, having been Chief of the Saskatoon Police Service for over a decade.

Apart from marrying his wife Lois, Clive says that working for the SPS was one of the best things that happened to him. He was given so much from the community and members of the SPS.

One of his favourite parts of the job was meeting people, and as Chief, he met plenty through the events and functions to which he felt fortunate to be invited. He actually credits them as contributing to keeping him relaxed despite the stresses and pressures as a Chief. He has joked that he needn’t have bought groceries during the first year he was hired because he was always invited to events in the community. But that was Clive – dedicated to the community.

While the Police Service enjoyed many accolades and achievements over his tenure, Clive is always quick to credit the men and women who have supported him. “One man doesn’t walk alone. It’s the men and the women, sworn and civilian, that have been hauling the freight and that’s how the Police Service has gotten its great reputation.”

Credit: The StarPhoenix

While Clive never became an auto mechanic, his passion for cars hasn’t faded. His favourite car is a 1956 Crown Victoria, but he and Lois enjoy cruising around in his 1985 Corvette. Saskatoon’s Show & Shine weekend is particularly fun for the two of them to see a bunch of old cars and show theirs off too.

After a one-off experience in Regina 15 years ago, the Weighill’s discovered an enjoyment for marching band competition. One of their first post-retirement trips will be down to the U.S. “If we hit the circuit properly, about four weekends in a row, we can go to different cities and take in a competition.”

He leaves the Police Service with the following words for his colleagues: “Thank you very much for the way that Lois and I were treated. We felt very welcomed in Saskatoon and supported. When I came here, people were willing to change and gave me the benefit of the doubt. I was lucky I came when the organization was ready for change.”

“Anywhere I’ve gone, I’ve always been proud when people ask me what I do for a living; I’m a Police Officer. And I guess that will be one of the hardest things – I’ll no longer be ‘Clive the Cop’”.

Posted in Behind the Badge, In Our Community | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Behind the Badge: Superintendent Mitch Yuzdepski

On Sunday, Police Officers from across the country will gather at different memorials to honour those that have fallen in the line of duty. Those that have tragically given their lives were mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, sisters, brothers, cousins, friends and colleagues. They had interests and hobbies, passions… lives outside of the uniform they wore on a daily basis.

In anticipation of the upcoming Saskatchewan Police & Peace Officer Memorial, we wanted to show you a few of those men and women, and who they are #BehindTheBadge. Throughout the week, we are featuring officers who have sworn to protect our community and hope you will learn a little bit more about them as human beings, not just Police Officers.

—–

Mitch Yuzdepski was one of those kids in Kindergarten who knew he wanted to be a Police Officer when he grew up. He admits he may have second guessed his dream in high school, but refocused on the goal during his time at university. Mitch grew up in Saskatoon’s Avalon neighbourhood and attended the University of Saskatchewan. He convocated with a degree in Sociology and earned his certificate in Business Administration from the Edwards School of Business. If not a career in policing, he may have gone into law, but he’s always been passionate about criminal justice.

30 years ago, Mitch got his start with the Saskatoon Police Service working in Detention. Today, he is a Superintendent that oversees the Patrol Division. But a lot happened in those three decades. One of Mitch’s favourite areas was working in the Canine Unit. In his time there, he had two partners; Zeus and Tell. Mitch was always fascinated by how these dogs could go for miles on a slight scent and know exactly what and who they were looking for. He remembers his longest track with Zeus crossing all types of terrain for six miles. After three hours, he and Zeus had all of the suspects in custody. Working as a homicide detective was also a favourite. It was much different from the Canine Unit, but similar in terms of team work and the same end goal; to catch the bad guy.

His kids always thought, “Dad has a pretty cool job!” He would visit their Kindergarten classes as a canine officer and then in high school as a homicide detective. But it wasn’t until they were young adults that they realized their dad had been involved in a lot of scary situations. “Our families hear about what we do in the news. They don’t know the details, but they know we were at that call. I think when they realize that, the anxiety and worry goes up a bit.” Mitch recalls a recent conversation with his daughter where she told him how thankful she was, knowing that he went to work all those years, facing danger and difficult situations, but always returning home as just “Dad.”

But having that work/life balance doesn’t come easy to all officers. Mitch is passionate about mental health in the community and within the police service; he ensures all member of SPS have easy access to any resources they need when it comes to their mental wellness. He took a lead role in creating PACT (Police And Crisis Team), he wrote the Mental Health Strategy for SPS and he’s also the Administration Liaison for CISM (Critical Incident Stress Management).

Mitch is a big sports fan; he loves the Saskatchewan Roughriders and accepts the harassment he often receives for his adoration of the Montreal Canadiens. He’s been an active community soccer coach and volunteers at various sporting events. Volunteering is something you can find Mitch doing often around Saskatoon. He says it’s a lot like policing, “We both have the same goal; to better our community. They say it takes a village to raise a community and everyone should be a part of that village.”

Posted in Behind the Badge, In Our Community | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment