2014 Excellence in Criminal Investigation Award Winners

Winner: Missouri State Highway Patrol - Rural Crimes Investigative Unit

The Missouri State Highway Patrol Rural Crimes Investigative Unit wins for overcoming unsuccessful rural crime case prosecution due to limited resources.

Following years of increasing statewide agricultural-related crimes and their negative impact on the Missouri economy, the Missouri Highway Patrol created the Rural Crimes Investigative Unit (RCIU). 97 of the 114 counties in Missouri are considered rural and agriculture is the predominant occupation – and it was clear that a knowledgeable investigative unit geared towards supporting local law enforcement in the prevention and investigation of rural crimes was needed.

So in 2009, the Missouri State Highway Patrol formed the RCIU, which consists of ten criminal investigators and one civilian intelligence analyst.

Since its formation, the RCIU has conducted more than 1,500 criminal investigations, arrested 345 suspects, and helped to recover $7.6 million in stolen property. And what often begins as a local, rural crime has turned into a large-scale criminal enterprise fraud investigation culminating in federal prosecution.

The RCIU has employed a variety of innovative strategies that have helped them accomplish the program’s goals within two years of inception:

  • Offering the unit’s investigative resources as partners resulted in gaining support from many smaller law enforcement agencies;
  • Creating an Internet site allowing all law enforcement agencies to contribute intelligence and data, regardless of their technology level, which resulted in the first centralized location for rural crime data in Missouri;
  • Holding regular rural crime summits throughout the state resulting in educating law enforcement officers, agents, farmers, agricultural business owners, and concerned citizens about how to recognize and combat rural crime;
  • Involving agricultural business owners by alerting them to pertinent theft information has enlisted citizens as motivated law enforcement parties;
  • Establishing and marketing an 800 number has provided an anonymous method to report suspicious activities and provide tips on local suspects;
  • Participating in a task force comprised of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, administrations, and agricultural-related professional groups which promoted a well-rounded discussion on rural crime trends statewide and how Missouri state statutes address rural crime.

The RCIU has helped to ensure that everyone from law enforcement to citizens can recognize the signs of crime in rural areas. They have worked to prevent the easy “fencing” of cattle caused by the lack of community partners. And they have helped to close legal loopholes by collaborating on rural crime trends and current state legislation.
RCIU was also able to overcome the limitations of low-tech resources to increase statewide rural crime data sharing, including soliciting rural crime incident reporting and intelligence.

The IACP Investigative Operations Committee and Thomson Reuters commend the Missouri State Highway Patrol and the members of its Rural Crimes Investigative Unit for creating an innovative, effective answer to rural crime.

Missouri State Highway Patrol Rural Crimes Investigative Unit
Left to right: Chief Yousry “Yost” Zakhary, President IACP; Colonel Ron Replogle; Lieutenant Phil Gregory; Sergeant Troy Linneman; Major Luke Vislay; Daniel DeSimone, Thomson Reuters

First Runner-Up: Elgin (IL) Police Department

Strategic initiatives employed by the Elgin, Illinois Police Department resulted in a 20% reduction in motor vehicle burglaries in 2013.

This reduction represented a 20-year low for the city of Elgin. It was the result of the development and deployment of several innovative programs that combined “old school” techniques with current high-tech tactics, including:

  • “If You Like It, Lock It” public awareness campaign
  • Implementation of the Career Offender Program
  • Utilization of online leads
  • Enhanced use of social media and crime reporting technology
  • Innovative patrol strategies
  • Community awareness, education, and involvement
  • Implementation of the Security Thru Surveillance Program

Elgin, Illinois Police Department
Left to right: Chief Yousry “Yost” Zakhary, President IACP; Sergeant Jim Bisceglie; Commander Ana Lalley; Chief Jeffrey Swoboda; Daniel DeSimone, Thomson Reuters

Second Runner-Up: Halton (ON) Regional Police Service - Homicide Unit

Innovative techniques help Halton Regional Police Service Homicide Unit of Oakville, Ontario, Canada, solve a 36-year-old cold case.

In 1976, a Burlington, Ontario resident was murdered. The case went cold until 2000 when advances in police forensics identified a suspect from fingerprints taken at the scene 24 years earlier. For the next twelve years, the Halton Homicide Unit meticulously, painstakingly built links to the suspect using laser technology, crime scene photo enhancement, revisiting the crime scene, and interviewing key living persons. In 2013 – 37 years after the initial stabbing – the Halton Homicide Unit was able to successfully tie the suspect to the murder.

Halton Regional Police Service Homicide Unit, Oakville, Ontario, Canada
Left to right: Superintendent Martin Power, Detective Craig Smith, Staff Sergeant John Mans, Chief Stephen Tanner