News / Calgary

Calgary police need more force on Sexual Crimes Unit because of #Metoo

This year, CPS hopes to add 4 officers to the unit to help with increased sexual crime reporting

Calgary Police Chief Roger Chaffin speaks to the media after a Calgary Police Commission meeting on Jan. 30, 2018.

Elizabeth Cameron / Calgary Freelance

Calgary Police Chief Roger Chaffin speaks to the media after a Calgary Police Commission meeting on Jan. 30, 2018.

Calgary police are hoping to add four more officers dedicated to their Sex Crimes Unit in 2018 after a marked increase in cases due to the #MeToo and #Timesup movements.

On Tuesday, at a Calgary police commission (CPC) meeting, Inspector Monty Sparrow updated the board members on Calgary police's efforts to combat sex crimes and support victims of sexual assault in an increasingly difficult environment.

In the past year, North America has been taken by storm by several social media movements encouraging victims or survivors of sexual assault to step forward and tell their stories in a public forum to raise awareness and dampen stigma on the topic.

According to police's data, the Sex Crimes Unit saw a 32 per cent increase in the unit's workload in 2017 from 2016. What's more, Sparrow explained the cases they're now investigating have become more complex than ever before.

They're also seeing more child abuse cases with a 30 per cent increase from 2016 to 2017.

He said instead of historic cases, police are seeing individuals come forward with cases where the allegation are only months old.

Police Chief Roger Chaffin said there's a lot of vulnerability happening in the city right now.

"We're going to have to address our capacity issues in key investigative areas," said Chaffin. "The numbers of (assault cases) are definitely unprecedented, that we're dealing with."

Chaffin pointed to the complexity of the cases as well, noting in the past some investigations were "standard" and took only days to complete.

"Now you're looking at cyber investigations, you're looking at parsing out technology, hard drives, images and working through social media," said Chaffin. "It's now taking weeks to do."

Currently the Sex Crimes Unit have eight detectives and by the end of 2018 they hope to have 12.

According to local advocates, 92 per cent of sexual assault allegations aren't reported. CPS don't believe instances of sexual assault have increased, but that heightened awareness has lead to more reporting.

More on