(TORONTO) – In its frenzy to bring down the provincial deficit, the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services has laid off the entire staff of an office responsible for fighting crime through analysis of electronic data.
All six members of the electronics investigation unit of the ministry’s Centre for Forensic Sciences learned this week they will be out of a job by the end of the year, according to notifications given to the Ontario Public Service Employees Union. The affected officers work with law enforcement officials and Crown prosecutors to analyze and retrieve materials and data stored in the computers of suspected child pornographers, organized drug rings and other suspected criminals.
“Even by the standards of this government, which has gone after the deficit with outrageous abandon, the loss of highly-skilled experts in crime fighting is beyond comprehension,” said OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas. “That the government is prepared to go easy in the pursuit of some of our most notorious suspected criminals is an audacious move.”
The officers who face unemployment are highly-educated in the fields of computer sciences, mathematics, criminology or related studies. They are skilled in retrieving data from files that have been erased or deleted from the computers, cell phones and other electronic devices of suspected criminals. They are capable of recovering email and Internet chat logs that assist law enforcement officials by linking suspected criminal individuals and groups.
Other duties performed by the soon-to-be jobless workers involve examination of stun guns and “tasers” to confirm their standing under terms of the criminal code. They are also skilled at ‘bringing to life’ poor-quality audiotapes to enhance their audibility using digital signal processing technology.
“The loss of these skilled experts represents a setback in the fight against crime in Ontario,” said Chris Pittens, president of OPSEU Local 579, which represents the laid-off employees. “It’s a well-known fact that criminals are becoming extremely skilled in their use and abuse of the Internet and other forms of electronic information technology. These layoffs represent a huge step backwards in our pursuit of those who would bring harm to others in Ontario. The work that these officers do is highly specialized and with the elimination of this unit this work simply won’t be done anymore.”