Before starting your Osgoode LLM in Criminal Law, what was your professional journey like?
That is a difficult question to answer. My professional journey prior to completing two separate LLM programs at Osgoode (I later completed my LLM in Canadian Common Law) was and remains a somewhat meandering path.
After law school, I worked at a property appraisal firm – which was quite detail oriented, but not quite what I envisioned as a career. I considered pursuing a Masters in Library Science (other family members pursued this path) but was more interested in a military career, having served as a military reservist during much of high school and university. I resumed my (part-time) military duties many years later when I was posted as an RCMP member in Surrey BC.
I am currently a (Reserve) Captain in the Canadian Forces Cadet Instructor Cadre, and probably one of the more “senior” instructors in the Army Cadet Expedition Program. At the Army Cadet local head quarters level, I enjoy teaching senior Cadets advanced field craft, principles of instruction, problem solving, crisis management and leadership theory. The practical application of process mapping and logic learned in my formal legal studies has directly benefitted me in my military career as well.
My policing career prior to the LLM program was interesting, but I greatly missed the focused intellectual rigour and applied theory of university and law school. Many RCMP members are accomplished academically, with backgrounds in the full range of academic disciplines. I have interacted with colleagues with graduate, doctoral and professional backgrounds including in law, engineering, forensics and accounting.
I always thought of teaching at the university level, and a graduate education in law seemed like a logical step to a doctoral program. My professional journey is not finished, nor is my intellectual journey. At this point in my life they are completely intertwined.
You earned your JD prior to starting your career at the RCMP – what made you decide to ultimately pursue a career in law enforcement instead of practicing law?
After law school, I realized that after spending eight years of my life in an academic environment, I wanted to apply my education and life experiences to helping people in the real world in real time. I believed the RCMP offered a life of adventure, and would provide an opportunity to fully experience and positively contribute to Canadian society from a unique vantage point.
At earlier points in your career, can you tell us about a time/case when having the legal knowledge you currently possess would have been useful.
I have worked in a broad range of policing programs, including criminal operations, national security, financial crime, sensitive investigations, and police anti-corruption investigations. My legal training, specifically in the areas of Jurisprudence, Law of the Crown, International Criminal Law, Evidence and Charter Law, has assisted me greatly during my policing career, from uniformed general duty in British Columbia to Federal investigations since my transfer to Ontario.
In my current role in Special Investigations / Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU), I work in a sensitive operational environment where many competing interests must be balanced in order to gather admissible evidence, while at the same time ensuring that broader societal and suspect interests are respected.
This area of policing is highly challenging, as we must maintain very strict operational and investigational security. In this environment, legal training has been the determining factor in formulating a pragmatic and implementable “vision”, assessing and analyzing complex investigative scenarios and crafting appropriate strategies and countermeasures in moving investigations forward.
In general, what would you say are the major benefits of studying the law for law enforcement
Major benefits of legal study for law enforcement professionals include a greater competence and confidence in interacting with justice system participants, from Crown prosecutors, defence counsel, and the Judiciary—and a corresponding enhancement in the quality of major criminal investigations.
There are several areas of advanced investigative specializations required to manage and drive forward major complex and/or covert investigations.
Major investigations are frequently structured around a Major Case Management model, which is driven by specialists such as Affiants who craft complex affidavits, File Coordinators who manage the flow and organization of investigative information, to Primary Investigators and Team Commanders who lead and command major investigations. The “command triangle” of Team Commander, Primary Investigator, and File Coordinator identify, manage, and deploy investigative specialists in the application of a variety of often resource intensive, high risk investigational techniques.
Advanced investigational techniques frequently require the preparation of complex affidavits in order to obtain appropriate judicial authorizations. Leadership roles in major investigations, especially that of the Affiant, Primary Investigator and Team Commander are benefited immensely by formal legal training from an accredited legal education program.
Leading and commanding major investigations involves formulating a pragmatic investigative “vision”, considering a range of potential paths forward, constant assessment of risks, ongoing balancing of interests, duties to warn, duties to inform the judiciary and senior commanders, and responding appropriately to unexpected crisis and emerging risks to the public and police as the investigation unfolds.
During the post investigative phase all major investigations must meet increasingly onerous requirements pertaining to timely disclosure, prosecution, and trial support. A sound formal legal education is immensely beneficial to key investigators and leaders during all phases of modern major criminal investigations.
— Elizabeth Kirley (@kirleez) August 3, 2020
What advice would you give to law enforcement professionals thinking about pursuing an LLM in Criminal Law or a Graduate Diploma in Law?
I strongly recommend any law enforcement professional who aspires to leading or contributing to major investigations in a key role to strongly consider these programs. The benefits are immeasurable.
A high level of legal education provides law enforcement professionals a fuller understanding as to our role within the criminal justice system, an enhanced sense of personal satisfaction and an informed appreciation of what is possible in successfully leading major investigations.
Osgoode’s Professional LLM in Criminal Law is available for Winter 2021 studies. To learn more about this specialization, please visit our website.
Satish Tarachandra BA, JD, LLM, CD is assigned to the RCMP “O” Division Criminal Operations Branch. He is currently a member of the Interview Team and the Critical Incident Program as a Crisis Negotiator. Satish is legally trained and completed his NCA in 2015. Since 1997, he has served in British Columbia and Ontario performing a wide variety of investigative, supervisory, administrative, training and leadership assignments.