New Bend PD crimes analyst tracking trends

Serial graffiti tagger caught: can they catch bank robber?

Tracking Trends: Watson is on the Case

BEND, Ore. - Bend police wanted a way to track crime, and possibly even stop it before it occurs. So they recently created a new position and hired a crimes analyst to research and track trends -- and it's already paying off.

Armed with technology, an ability to see patterns and experience with crime in Los Angeles , Nancy Watson is now part of Bend's police force.

"It's just very interesting for me to be able to look at how a crime occurs, where it occurs and the patterns within," Watson said Wednesday.

Watson was hired in November, and recently helped track down a graffiti suspect police say was responsible for hundreds of taggings all around the city.

She showed her map of hot spots around Bend and explained how she tracks the crimes.

"I see a lot of similarities -- the same symbols or words, time, location, anything," said Watson. "I take a lot of that, and I continue to track it and speak with patrol and detectives and try to get as much information as possible."

Watson works with what the department calls "information-led policing." The idea is to send patrol officers to certain areas they expect crimes to occur.

"If we know we have burglaries in certain areas and we can pinpoint that to certain dates, and times, that gives us an ability to focus more in that area," Lt. Chris Carney said. "Then we can try to ultimately prevent the crime, stop the crime and catch the suspects."

The new effort also just might help crack a big case police have been working for more than a year: catching a serial bank robber who's gotten away with four holdups.

"With budgets and the economy the way it is, we're not going to be able to bring on a lot of new officers any time soon," Carney said. "So one of the things we need to do is do police work smarter."

Although Carney and Watson could not reveal too many details about their bank robbery investigation, they did say they're doing what they can to stop another one.

"We're working on whatever we can to predict when the next robbery might occur, if there is one -- hopefully we'll get him before then," Watson said.

The crimes analyst is a full-time position. Police Chief Jeff Sale said it was the only position he was able to create in his five-year projected budget..

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