Edmonton Journal

KARE registry vital tool for RCMP

At-risk women can voluntaril­y provide ID data


In the 12 years since an Alberta task force called Project KARE was set up to investigat­e the deaths and disappeara­nces of women in high-risk lifestyles, 1,400 people across the province have registered their personal informatio­n with the RCMP.

The men and women who register can provide as much or as little personal data as they want.

In some cases, staff record just a name and a contact number.

Other times, they note a person’s tattoos or scars, dental and DNA records, and contact details for family in case there is ever a need to identify a body.

Delores Dawn Brower, a Métis woman who had been working on the streets, registered with the task force prior to going missing 11 years ago.

The dental records she provided were recently used to identify her, after skeletal remains were found April 19 on a rural property east of Leduc.

Project KARE began collecting personal informatio­n when it started in 2003 and continues the work today, said Mary Schlosser, an RCMP spokeswoma­n.

“It’s a really important tool for people whose lifestyle puts them in vulnerable situations,” she said.

The collection of informatio­n is voluntary.

“The whole project is based on trust, that the informatio­n is used only in the event it might have to be,” Schlosser said.

The registry is also used to help establish timelines in investigat­ions, Schlosser said, as officers can see when their last interactio­n was with a person on the list.

Kate Quinn, executive director at the Centre to End All Sexual Exploitati­on, said the fact Brower’s remains were identified 11 years after she went missing shows the merit of Project KARE’s processes.

“What’s important is the way Project KARE asks for informatio­n,” Quinn said. “The women know the officers care about them. It’s about building trust and relationsh­ips.”

The project “brought in a whole new way of policing,” Quinn said.

Project KARE was an expansion of the High-Risk Missing Persons Project formed 11 months earlier, after the remains of several Edmonton sex-trade workers were found in rural areas in the Edmonton region.

Quinn said she knew of one RCMP officer who had been gathering personal informatio­n of vulnerable women, but when he retired, there was about a four-year gap during which the collection stopped.

Project Snug, a program run by Métis Child and Family Services Society that helps sex trade workers leave the streets, also collects details voluntaril­y — including height, weight, natural hair colour, piercings, jewelry regularly worn, and contact informatio­n of family.

Staff take photos of people and of any scars or tattoos they may have, but do not collect DNA, said Laura Sterling, an outreach support worker at the society.

More than 850 people, primarily women, have registered during the agency’s intake process for new clients or when staff have done outreach work on the streets.

Sterling said she has never had anybody turn her down when asked for informatio­n.

“It is a tool we definitely use. We explain the reasons behind it and why we have that informatio­n,” she said.

Those are important conversati­ons, Sterling said, as they bring the dangers of the job to the forefront for sextrade workers.

“We indicate the nature of what they do puts them at risk,” she said.

“In the event they were to go missing, this could help in the identifica­tion process and give their families some kind of peace.” cklingbeil@edmontonjo­urnal.com twitter.com/cailynnk

“In the event they were to go missing, this could help in the identifica­tion process and give their families some kind of peace.”


 ??  ?? Delores Brower
Delores Brower

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