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Specialized investigative firms could conduct surveillance on suspected terrorists

Some highly specialized investigative firms could play a role in Canada’s efforts to track suspected homegrown terrorists and “radicalized” individuals, says MKD International Inc. managing director Jim Downs

The retired Toronto police detective, who co-founded the investigation firm after more than 20 years as an officer, says police forces are strapped for cash and it might be beneficial for government to look at ways to augment traditional law enforcement agency services when it comes to conducting surveillance on these individuals.

“There simply aren't enough human resources to watch everybody – the watch list is growing,” he tells AdvocateDaily.com.

The Canadian Security Intelligence Service has said the organization is aware of as many as 145 people – with connections to Canada – who have travelled overseas to take part in terrorist activities; CSIS says as many as 80 of them have returned to Canada, reports the Toronto Star

The spy service has said homegrown terrorists are a threat.

Newly tabled anti-terrorism legislation would give CSIS more power to stop a suspected extremist's travel plans, disrupt bank transactions and covertly interfere with radical websites, reports the Canadian Pressp>This legislation follows a government review of fatal attacks on two Canadian soldiers last October – incidents the government believes were fuelled by Islamic extremism, says the wire service.

Downs says there are some professional investigator firms out there who bring years of experience to the table as former police officers and who have the training and background to conduct covert surveillance and gather intelligence.

MKD International, for example, employs more than 45 investigators, all are former police detectives with a breadth of experience in criminal investigations, intelligence gathering, surveillance, forensics and security.

"We have more than 1,000 years of investigative service collectively with a variety of police services and in private investigative services – all of sworn officers whose investigative work is court defensible," he says. 

The firm is likely the only one of its size in the country that is comprised of all former police who served with the Toronto Police Service, the Ontario Provincial Police, the Canadian Armed Services and other police services across Canada.

It offers a range of investigative services to corporations, the legal profession, insurance companies, government agencies, financial institutions and individuals across Canada and worldwide.

“Our investigators could easily be utilized to augment government services to conduct surveillance on suspected individuals – their credibility and skill sets are as good as any officer on the street,” Downs says. “Some of these investigators have been doing this type of work for 30 years. I would put them up against any professional surveillance team.”

While governments have hired professional investigative firms to assist with various kinds of investigations in the past, Downs says he isn't aware of any firm that has been hired in Canada to assist with radicalized individuals. 

“To my knowledge, they aren’t doing this, but should they be? Yes,” he says. “Every police force has stretched resources."

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