One after another, robbery files began landing on Sandra Bibby’s desk late in September 2012.
They contained surveillance photos and suspect descriptions that began to paint a picture of a series of 10 robberies in Red Deer and one in Lacombe.
At first it was not clear whether the crimes were connected in any way.
But looking at the event frame, including the name of the business, time, date, suspect description and the files, investigators were able to identify and connect the lawbreakers.
“What we actually had was a partnership,” said Bibby, the city’s criminal intelligence analyst. One suspect would stay in the car and one would go inside the target business.
Bibby said the robberies began to escalate over the year and raised concerns of spillover crime. Eventually, police were able to get a vehicle description and an unregistered licence plate.
Bibby said they kept tracking the suspects and managed to identify, arrest and charge one. Steven Lee Pinch of Red Deer is serving a five-year sentence in Edmonton. The other man, although suspected, was not charged. Pinch confessed and stated the other man was just the driver and did not have any knowledge of the crimes. Pinch was linked to 11 robberies, 10 in Red Deer and one in Lacombe. He confessed to nine and his DNA was found at one scene. He was charged and convicted of the 10 crimes.
That’s just one example of the work that Bibby does as the city’s first criminal intelligence analyst.
Bibby was hired in September 2012 to work alongside police to help with investigations. She develops timelines, creates association charts and conducts general research.
A criminal intelligence analyst is rarely, if ever, at a crime scene. That job is left to the forensic analysts.
This frees up the investigators’ time, allowing them to respond to calls and be the boots on the street.
It also increases the possibility of a suspect being charged on more than one file.
Now the city is hiring another analyst to help sort through the estimated 220 files that come into the station every 24 hours.
Red Deer RCMP Insp. Scott Tod said the position has brought great value to the police investigations, the detachment’s ability to connect incidents and to be strategic in its enforcement efforts.
“The addition of another (crime analyst) is going to be a huge asset to us,” said Tod. “That’s just become the way of doing business and police work. You need to have criminal analysts because of the amount of intelligence and information. Police officers do not have all the time that they need to do those linkages and look for connections. That’s the value in criminal analysts and it’s just the way of doing business in the police world now.”
Larger cities like Edmonton and Calgary have more than one analyst who specialize in crimes such as robberies.
Tod has not ruled out hiring more analysts to specialize in specific crimes in the future.
One of the first big cases that Bibby worked on will be heard in the federal court sometime next year. Bibby couldn’t go into much detail but she said it involved telephone toll analysis. In order to check the data, officers must write a search warrant that is referred to as a production order to secure a person’s cellphone text messages and calls and locations. In any kind of analysis work, they are looking for relationships.
“I had not done that type of analysis before, especially to that extent,” said Bibby. “It was a great icebreaker file for the detachment.”
Bibby handles every file that comes into the detachment and has recently worked on cases linking armed robberies in Red Deer and Edmonton.