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Sandercock P.M.L.,Royal Canadian Mounted Police
Journal of Forensic Sciences | Year: 2012

A new, simple method for the reproducible creation of pyrolysis products from different materials that may be found at a fire scene is described. A temperature programmable steady-state tube furnace was used to generate pyrolysis products from different substrates, including softwoods, paper, vinyl sheet flooring, and carpet. The temperature profile of the tube furnace was characterized, and the suitability of the method to reproducibly create pyrolysates similar to those found in real fire debris was assessed. The use of this method to create proficiency tests to realistically test an examiner's ability to interpret complex gas chromatograph-mass spectrometric fire debris data, and to create a library of pyrolsates generated from materials commonly found at a fire scene, is demonstrated. © 2011 American Academy of Forensic Sciences. Source

Michaud J.,University of Moncton | Michaud J.,Royal Canadian Mounted Police | Moreau G.,University of Moncton
Journal of Forensic Sciences | Year: 2011

Using pig carcasses exposed over 3 years in rural fields during spring, summer, and fall, we studied the relationship between decomposition stages and degree-day accumulation (i) to verify the predictability of the decomposition stages used in forensic entomology to document carcass decomposition and (ii) to build a degree-day accumulation model applicable to various decomposition-related processes. Results indicate that the decomposition stages can be predicted with accuracy from temperature records and that a reliable degree-day index can be developed to study decomposition-related processes. The development of degree-day indices opens new doors for researchers and allows for the application of inferential tools unaffected by climatic variability, as well as for the inclusion of statistics in a science that is primarily descriptive and in need of validation methods in courtroom proceedings. © 2010 American Academy of Forensic Sciences. Source

Beauregard E.,Simon Fraser University | Martineau M.,Royal Canadian Mounted Police
International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology | Year: 2013

Few empirical studies have been conducted that examine the phenomenon of sexual homicide, and among these studies, many have been limited by small sample size. Although interesting and informative, these studies may not be representative of the greater phenomenon of sexual murder and may be subject to sampling bias that could have significant effects on results. The current study aims to provide a descriptive analysis of the largest sample of sexual homicide cases across Canada in the past 62 years. In doing so, the study aims to examine offender and victim characteristics, victim targeting and access, and modus operandi. Findings show that cases of sexual homicide and sexual murderers included in the current study differ in many aspects from the portrait of the sexual murderer and his or her crime depicted in previous studies. The authors' results may prove useful to the police officers responsible for the investigation of these crimes. © The Author(s) 2012. Source

Foster A.,Carleton University | Laurin N.,Royal Canadian Mounted Police
Investigative Genetics | Year: 2012

Background: Traditional PCR methods for forensic STR genotyping require approximately 2.5 to 4 hours to complete, contributing a significant portion of the time required to process forensic DNA samples. The purpose of this study was to develop and validate a fast PCR protocol that enabled amplification of the 16 loci targeted by the AmpFℓSTR ®Identifiler ®primer set, allowing decreased cycling times.Methods: Fast PCR conditions were achieved by substituting the traditional Taq polymerase for SpeedSTAR™ HS DNA polymerase which is designed for fast PCR, by upgrading to a thermal cycler with faster temperature ramping rates and by modifying cycling parameters (less time at each temperature) and adopting a two-step PCR approach.Results: The total time required for the optimized protocol is 26 min. A total of 147 forensically relevant DNA samples were amplified using the fast PCR protocol for Identifiler. Heterozygote peak height ratios were not affected by fast PCR conditions, and full profiles were generated for single-source DNA amounts between 0.125 ng and 2.0 ng. Individual loci in profiles produced with the fast PCR protocol exhibited average n-4 stutter percentages ranging from 2.5 ± 0.9% (THO1) to 9.9 ± 2.7% (D2S1338). No increase in non-adenylation or other amplification artefacts was observed. Minor contributor alleles in two-person DNA mixtures were reliably discerned. Low level cross-reactivity (monomorphic peaks) was observed with some domestic animal DNA.Conclusions: The fast PCR protocol presented offers a feasible alternative to current amplification methods and could aid in reducing the overall time in STR profile production or could be incorporated into a fast STR genotyping procedure for time-sensitive situations. © 2012 Foster and Laurin; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. Source

News Article | August 22, 2016
Site: http://motherboard.vice.com/

Police in Ontario’s biggest cities have received hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants to deploy unspecified surveillance equipment as part of an obscure provincial program. The problem is, no one knows exactly what they’re buying with all that money. Police in Toronto, Ottawa, and the municipalities of Peel and York (near Toronto) have received hundreds of thousands of dollars each to pay for the Provincial Electronic Surveillance Equipment Deployment Program (PESEDP). This little-known project is described by police as “funding for the purchase of, or improvements to, equipment used in the investigation of organized crime”, which doesn’t reveal much. Mentions of the program can be found in publicly-available meeting agendas and reports dating back to 2011. Between February and June of this year, the Toronto police spent $100,000 on PESEDP, although they won’t publicly offer any specifics. Documents produced by the York Regional Police Services Board and the Peel Police Services Board show that both forces received $200,000 each to fund PESEDP, in 2011 and 2013, respectively. York Regional Police got another $100,000 in 2016. A 2016 report detailing the latest payment to the York Regional Police notes that the force has agreements with the Ontario Provincial Police to “share services to intercept personal communications” and “to monitor personal communications,” both expiring in November of 2017. Tamir Israel, staff lawyer at the University of Ottawa’s Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic, says that the PESEDP money could be spent in a number of ways. “Police services are investing in a range of new surveillance technologies, from license-plate recognition devices, to facial recognition or IMSI catchers,” Israel told me over the phone. The Ottawa Police Service, Toronto Police Service and the York Regional Police all refused to answer questions about PESEDP. Toronto Police Service spokesperson Mark Pugash replied to questions about PESEDP by stating that “[Toronto Police Service does] not discuss investigative techniques or equipment.” Although none of the police services I contacted would speak about what kind of surveillance equipment the program is ‘deploying,’ local forces across the country have demonstrated interest in advanced cyber surveillance tools in the past. “A year or two ago, Hacking Team—an outfit in Italy that sells malware and network intrusion tools—got hacked, a lot of their internal communications came [out], and there was some communication with Canadian police agencies,” Israel said. “It didn’t lead to anything at the time in terms of purchasing [Hacking Team] services, but it shows that there is an interest in that type of capability.” Police get funding for PESEDP through Proceeds of Crime grants that are administered by Criminal Intelligence Service Ontario, and the provincial Ministry of the Attorney General Civil Remedies for Illicit Activities office. Proceeds of Crime grants are funded by Ontario’s civil asset forfeiture program, a controversial set of laws that give police the power to seize assets from individuals and organizations without securing criminal convictions or laying criminal charges. Ontario was the first province in Canada to pass a civil asset forfeiture law in 2001. Since then, seven other provinces have passed similar laws, leading to a steady increase in civil asset seizures across the country. These seized assets are paying for a slew of police activities, including PESEDP. The Ottawa Police Service spent $105,188 on PESEDP in 2015. Ottawa Police’s description of PESEDP says that is used to pay for “initiatives focused on the proceeds of crime”. This suggests that Ottawa Police may be using PESEDP funds to pursue assets that pay for PESEDP itself. “There is no prohibition against a grant recipient from using Proceeds of Crime funding to pursue civil assets, provided the grant funds were approved for that use,” Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services (MCSCS) spokesperson Brent Ross wrote me in an email. However, he continued, all project requests must fall under annual themes, like “creating a safer Ontario through community collaboration.” The PESEDP program is “managed at an operational level by police services across the province,” Ross continued. Despite funding the program through Criminal Intelligence Service Ontario, which is a part of MCSCS, Ross wrote that “the Ministry does not direct operational policing decisions.” As for whether a privacy assessment has been done on the program, a media request made to the federal Office of the Privacy Commissioner was referred to the provincial office, then to MCSCS, which would neither confirm nor deny it. At this point, no one other than the police forces involved knows what kinds of equipment PESEDP is paying for, but some of the surveillance programs operated by police in Ontario and elsewhere in Canada are coming to light. In December 2015, Toronto Police Service denied having or using Stingrays or cell-site simulators, but a 2016 court case forced the TPS to reveal that they applied for permission to use a Stingray-type device as part of a gang investigation. The Vancouver Police Department has also admitted to using a Stingray device on loan from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Canada’s federal force. On August 11, 2016, in response to questions from Motherboard, Edmonton Police Service admitted to owning a Stingray device, a comment that the force quickly retracted, saying it had been made in error. Many experts believe that local police departments borrow such devices from the RCMP, instead of owning them, adding to the mystery of what kinds of surveillance equipment local police are spending so much money on. “Often, the view is that there is a need to keep these procurement activities secret, but the regular [procurement] transparency mechanisms have considerations built in, so only information that wouldn’t undermine the use of the technique is made public,” Israel said. “There’s no need to make it more secret than it is.”

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