BELOIT - Of all the changes made in the Beloit Police Department in the last two years, one modification - the addition of a crime analyst - may hold particular promise to clear cases.
Crime Analyst Jocelyn Adams is no stranger to the department. She's spent nearly 10 years on the force, first assisting with data collection in the records department before moving into the role as crime analyst about a year and a half ago.
The tech-savvy, data-oriented staffer spends her shifts sifting through around 30 cases, sometimes more, each day. Adams goes through all homicide, shots fired, robbery, theft, burglary and overdose reports to help detectives develop leads on possible suspects and repeat offenders in Beloit.
On an average day Adams helps locate names of possible suspects, mining through hundreds of public records available online and in private access records systems locally and at the state level. She says she provides a logistical bridge for detectives to help them clear cases.
"It's a collaborative effort," Adams said. "I enjoy all of the research. I love what I do. It's very fulfilling to help the detectives."
The department's clearance performance for violent crime ticked up slightly from 107 cases cleared in 2015 to 109 last year, while violent crime dropped in that time frame from 178 reported incidents in 2015 and 175 reported last year.
The analyst position was created following Chief David Zibolski's overhaul of the patrol and detective divisions.
"It's critical to the intelligence sharing capacity of our department, both in terms of our strategic approach to crime in the city but also from a tactical day-to-day perspective identifying crime trends and repeat or possible repeat offenders," Zibolski said. "It's really connecting the dots between individuals and suspects that are committing or are involved with crimes in the city. It's a very critical piece that we did not have. It provides us with a much greater opportunity to interdict and arrest those that are involved with crime. It's a huge piece."
Adams said she wasn't always on the same page with detectives when she first started, but after nearly two years on the job, she's able to identify what each case calls for, from various types of research to how to more efficiently develop patterns.
"I can anticipate what they might want now," Adams said.
The access to digital records online has accelerated the research process, and the open sourced nature of what's available online, from social media to open records, improves the time from providing intelligence to making an arrest.
Adams said she vividly remembers her first homicide investigation assist, which was the shooting death of Jose Ortiz in October 2015. No suspect was arrested. She said she felt most helpful to detectives in the homicide investigation of the shooting death of Tony Payne in September 2016. The shooting prompted a quick response from detectives and Adams, with a suspect being identified online shortly following the incident. Suspect Michael E. Joseph, who has pleaded not guilty, turned himself in to police in January, after being sought since the fall shooting.
"That's one of the investigations that I can look back on, to this day, and feel like I really contributed," Adams said.
Adams has worked with seasoned-Rockford Police Department crime analyst Kim Binder to gain further insight into the field, and is currently pursuing her graduate degree in intelligence operations from American Public University. In her spare time, Adams keeps up with the fictional crime shows, CBS's Criminal Minds and BBC's Sherlock Holmes. She also enjoys reading and catching plays in the Stateline and Chicago areas.
"She's making great strides and she's going to continue to make strides," Zibolski said. "She's in her infancy of the position and it's going to continue to grow with her."