The Fort Saskatchewan RCMP just implemented a domestic violence unit at the detachment.
The detachment selected Corporal Jennifer Brown for the position as, with 18 years of experience, she brings a wealth of knowledge to the unit with her extensive domestic violence investigations training.
Before creating the unit, she was already the detachment's "go-to" on assisting with domestic violence cases.
"A lot of things would come to me, or I would be used as a resource for the detachment in that area. So it's nice to have the actual position now that I can focus on those types of investigations, and moving forward, just try to improve things."
She will be in charge of overseeing virtually every domestic file that comes into the detachment with the new position.
"I make sure the investigations are thorough and complete, consistent with our policies within the RCMP and offer any assistance I can as far as follow up. On serious high-risk files, I'll offer guidance, or in certain cases, I'll take those investigations over."
Another benefit of having a dedicated unit is that it allows the RCMP to build a rapport with victims who may need assistance in leaving an abusive situation. Through Victims Services and the Fort Saskatchewan Families First Societies, Brown can connect victims with resources to help.
"People have to be ready and want to leave, but once they are, it might take a few times, but we just can't give up on them. So having that one person focused and aware of their history, I think, is definitely something that helps lots."
Brown added it was important to implement the unit as the detachment has seen a rise in family violence files. Between 2014 and 2020, there was a 12 per cent increase in domestic violence cases in Fort Saskatchewan. The severity of the crimes has increased too. Between the same period, files that led to charges such as assault, mischief to property, uttering threats and criminal harassment went from 51 to 90, about a 76 per cent increase.
Once courts aren't so affected by public health orders, Brown hopes to be in court every Thursday on docket days to assist the Crown Prosecutor with domestic violence files. She believes it would be a benefit to prosecutors to have additional history on the files.
"[They] have so many files on their plate that are in court that day, and [if] people are coming in looking to have charges withdrawn or conditions removed and the crown doesn't know a lot of the history on these particular people, they may or may not be able to make an informed decision."