New crime analyst goes above and beyond
Dartmouth Police Crime Analyst Keri Lebeau takes her job very seriously.
In fact, the civilian even helps the police in her down time; in one memorable instance, she recognized a crime series suspect from an investigation while at a private function, leading to the person’s arrest.
But such moments — when Lebeau goes above and beyond her regular duties — are rare.
Lebeau is even more valuable to the department in her day-to-day job of disseminating information and analyzing patterns and trends in crime data generated by the police.
“A lot of it is putting together bulletins to get out to the officers so they’re informed, they’re safe, they know what they’re getting into,” she said.
“You read a lot of reports, you take a lot of data and compile it, try to find patterns, trends,” she explained. “That’s one aspect of it. Another aspect of it is mapping incidents and seeing if they’re connected somehow.”
Even as a child, she was always drawn to police work.
“My dad was a police officer for 31 years,” she said. “So as a little kid I just remember sitting in the car with the lights, and thinking ‘Oh, that’s so cool!’”
After getting a degree in sociology and criminology up in Boston, Lebeau came back to her hometown of New Bedford, working as a dispatcher and then a crime analyst.
She even took the exam to become an officer years ago — but decided that with the layoffs going on at the time, she could use her skills to help the police in a different way.
And according to the police, it’s working.
Since Lebeau joined the department last December, said Detective Kyle Costa, “We’ve solved a ton of crimes. She’s been a tremendous asset to us.”
He said that Lebeau’s quick work creating a bulletin was instrumental in the recent arrest of a purse snatcher on Dartmouth Street.
In another instance, one of her bulletins spread online helped bust a retail crime ring that had hit Best Buys all up and down the east coast.
“When Keri first came in...I didn’t really know what her role was,” admitted Costa.
But he said that he realized the value she brought to the department after a homicide last December.
“‘Wow. She can get all this information a lot quicker than I can,’” he remembered thinking. “‘And she can put it in a nice package for me.’”
“She’s brought a sense of order to what can be chaotic,” he added.
In law enforcement, information sharing is key — particularly between different agencies and towns, which can lead to collaborative arrests.
And Lebeau makes the whole process much more efficient.
“Sometimes it’s amazing to me, the brevity now that it brings to the cases,” said Costa. “Before you’d work weeks on things that now you could solve in hours.”
He continued, “It absolutely cuts down on crime. Because the quicker you get something solved, the less crime that that person’s going to be able to do...It’s made [police work] more efficient.”
Police Chief Brian Levesque said that’s exactly what he wanted when he hired an analyst.
Instead of hiring one more police officer, he said, he thought a crime analyst “would allow us to utilize the existing resources more efficiently and effectively.”
“We’re still kind of getting used to having an analyst,” he said with a smile. “We’re constantly finding new ways that she is able to assist us.”
He added, “It’s worked out extremely well.”
Levesque said that ultimately, the goal is “doing more with what we have” by targeting peak times and locations for criminal activity.
“This is the future,” he said. “We’re constantly feeding information into the system, but getting the information out is really not always that easy...and that’s what having a crime analyst brings to the table.”
As for recognizing suspects on her days off, the chief said that Lebeau doesn’t have to worry.
“That’s unusual, and that’s really not part of her job,” he laughed. “We don’t expect that, but it’s great when it happens.”