A pair of Child Exploitation investigators shared their experience with European counterparts at a two-week training session that resulted in the rescue of a child.
Detectives Paul Krawczyk and Amy Davey were the only two Canadian law enforcement officers chosen to attend the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement two-week training program in Poland in September that brought together officers from Denmark, France, the United Kingdom, France and Australia.
Krawczyk, who has been a member of the Sex Crimes Unit for the last 14 years, was impressed with how the facilitators and trainees worked collaboratively to achieve the goal of safeguarding children from child abuse exploiters.
“The teamwork was amazing,” he said. “We are now part of an online group where we are chatting among ourselves every day. “Four weeks ago, we didn’t know these people and barely knew their countries. Now, we know a lot about them. That makes us better people and it makes them better people, but it is the teamwork in the end that makes this project so fantastic. On the last day, the work that one of the groups did led to the rescue of a child in England. That gave everyone that drive to keep going. It is teamwork and everyone having the same level of passion.”
The program was designed to enhance co-operation between law enforcement institutions from European Member states and associate and candidate countries in the identification of child victims of sexual exploitation and to create or improve the skills of specialized law enforcement officers in the identifying victims at a national and international level.
A total of 29 law enforcement officers form across Europe took part in the training program.
This is a borderless crime and it’s good to have contacts internationally. It was just not about teaching and learning. It was about making those contacts to facilitate information sharing
The last two days were spent working on active cases.
“We were very honoured to be assigned this task,” said Krawczyk who in 2012 shared the Officer of the Year Award with Janelle Blackadar for infiltrating a global network of men that were trading child sexual abuse images and videos and, in some instances, creating images by abusing children. “The neatest thing about the whole exercise was that there were different countries represented by men and women with different experiences, languages and cultures all in the same room working on one investigation.
Davey was thrilled to be part of the program.
“The focus was on how to conduct an online investigation,” she said. “Emphasis was placed on the various software and programs used to facilitate this kind of investigation and find suspects’ victims online.”
Besides helping to enhance the skills of European officers involved in child sexual exploitation cases, the Canadian officers said the program helped them develop important networks.
“What starts out in Toronto could end up in Croatia three hours later,” she said. “This is a borderless crime and it’s good to have contacts internationally. It was just not about teaching and learning. It was about making those contacts to facilitate information sharing.”
In her introductory speech at the start of the course, Davy – she has been assigned to the Sex Crimes Unit since 2010 -- told the trainees they have to have passion for doing this kind of work.
“What I meant was once you rescue a child, that feeling and that drive is what fuels you to find more,” she said. “Watching some of the students find that passion meant a lot to me. They were working beyond the cut-off time each day.”
Inspector Pauline Gray, the Sex Crimes unit commander, praised her officers for going abroad to share their expertise.
“The fact that the only two officers from Canada chosen for this project was from Toronto Police say that we doing things right in this area and people are watching and taking note,” she said. “There is a constant clamouring for members of this unit to train around the world. We have the best and are proud to showcase them.”