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Here's a look inside Saskatchewan RCMP's unit specializing in crimes with unknown offenders

The Violent Crime Linkage Analysis System (ViCLAS) Unit is often unseen – working in the background of investigations across Saskatchewan.

“To put it simply – we analyze cases with unknown offenders,” Sgt. Nick Smyth explained.

Smyth works as a manager of Saskatchewan RCMP’s ViCLAS Unit.

The unit mostly works with homicide or sexually based investigations.

"Through analyzing the behaviors in that case – we try to link the case – with other cases with known offenders," Smyth said.

One such example was in February of 2021. RCMP in Swift Current were investigating indecent messages sent on a social media app.

ViCLAS was brought in – analyzed the data and managed to identify a suspect.

The man was charged with one count of indecent communications and later convicted.

Smyth was sure to be clear on a certain fact – his unit’s work is not the same as the police procedurals you can watch on TV.

"We're not profilers,” he said.

“In the general public, we take so much of what we believe, [what] we know about policing from what we see on TV which as we know is definitely exaggerated,” he added.

Saskatchewan RCMP’s ViCLAS Unit assists in hundreds of cases every year. However, the unit was recently able to get some additional training from Carl Sesely, an investigator with the national ViCLAS unit.

"That behaviour can paint a picture of what that offender is like,” Sesely said, explaining the process of profiling.

“We can give you an age range. How experienced he is. How confident they are, education level in some cases [and] even be able to tell you what kind of car they are driving."

Sesely has been a profiler for more than 20 years – working on thousands of cases. In that time, he says investigators develop a sense for the truth and ways of getting it.

"Different sex offenders respond in different ways to speaking to someone,” he said. “It’s about how you speak to them that can help them tell the truth."

For Smyth, the best part of the job is simple.

“The rare time, we do learn the work we have done has led to – what we call a ‘confirmed link,’” he said.

“It's almost cause for celebration. It's a good feeling."

While Hollywood productions have skewed the reality of what police investigations look like – the analysis of Saskatchewan’s ViCLAS unit remains an important tool in every case. Top Stories

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