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Homicide: Life on the street

When criminals commit murder, Det. Sgt. Savas Kyriacou leaves no stone unturned.

When criminals commit murder, Det. Sgt. Savas Kyriacou leaves no stone unturned.

A veteran of dealing with Toronto’s darker side, Kyriacou has investigated more than 60 homicides and suspicious deaths in his nine-year career as a homicide investigator with the Toronto Police. In a field where the average career lasts only four years, Kyriacou’s profound sense of duty motivates him to keep pursuing justice for the deceased.

“There’s no greater responsibility and no greater challenge than to investigate the murder of a
human being. The responsibility is enormous and the margin for error is zero. It’s also an honour because you’re speaking for the deceased,” Kyriacou said.

Kyriacou is no stranger to working on cases under intense media coverage either — he just completed an investigation into the murder of Jane Creba on Dec. 26, 2005. Creba, just 15 at the time, had been crossing the street in downtown Toronto when she was caught in the crossfire between two gangs in a murder case that shocked the city. The first trial in that case resulted in a guilty verdict and second-degree murder conviction early December.

The satisfaction of securing a conviction, sometimes after years of hard work, still inspires Kyriacou to work even harder.

“I’m still as passionate about my work as I was 26 years ago when I became a police officer on the street,” Kyriacou said.

Besides the tough schedule, which can see detectives like Kyriacou working seven-day work weeks at the start of an investigation, the stress and emotional toll can get to some people.

“You see some of the most horrendous crime scenes anyone can imagine — not even TV can match it. You have to have the experience and the personality to handle those kinds of situations,” Kyriacou said.

And unlike the whirlwind-pace of investigations often portrayed on TV, Kyriacou insists real detective work takes time, patience and diligence, even long after an arrest has been made.

“We’re out pounding the pavement doing old-fashioned police work. Just because you make an arrest in a case doesn’t mean the investigation is over,” Kyriacou said.

He insists collaboration with forensics, other police branches and even the community itself is crucial to solving a case as well.

Alongside tried and true methods of interviewing witnesses and tracking leads, Kyriacou says modern homicide detectives frequently have to think outside the box to investigate effectively.

“Investigations have to become more creative because criminals are becoming more creative.

We rely on YouTube, we rely on Facebook. We’ll use techniques that are not traditional as long as they’re legal and supported by the criminal code,” Kyriacou said.

“I go into every investigation with an open mind. When you think you’ve seen everything, something always crops up that shocks you or surprises you,” he said.

 
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