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Detectives get their first crime analyst in 13 years

Tuesday, Apr. 22 | By Julie Taylor
Could Fauquier County see fewer burglaries, fewer thefts, and fewer victims in the future?

The Fauquier County Board of Supervisor's recent budget decision will allow the Fauquier County Sheriff's Office to hire a vital asset—a crime analyst.

"It's a proactive approach to try to cut down on criminal activity," said Lt. Col. Paul Mercer. "Because of some of the crimes and issues going on around the county, we felt like a crime analyst would be important for us to put some of these trends and criminal activities together."

It has been 13 years since Fauquier has had an analyst, and Mercer is looking forward to July 1, when the decision will go into effect.

"What that crime analyst did for us all those years ago was extremely important. I think it'll help us out tremendously," Mercer said.

Commonwealth's Attorney James Fisher sees the crime analyst as essential, but had hoped for an approval of the "cold case unit."

"We didn't get the program we were asking funding for, so Sheriff Fox and I will have to get together to see how we can use that person," Fisher said. "They may have to retrofit some things."

The crime analyst will look into unsolved murders in the county such as the Sarah Greenhalgh or Bryan Mace cases as time allows, but it will not be the main duty.

The crime analyst will mainly work proactively, piecing together clues to solve current connected cases. For example, reviewing lists sent from local pawn shops to identify stolen goods. Another example would be the recent breaking and entering attempt in Terranova which was thought to be related to a separate incident last month.

"It's a valuable position and I'm glad they have it," Fisher said.

Mercer agrees, and sees the new position as an asset for the office.

"This is an added tool that will assist [the detectives]," Mercer said. "I think it may increase [their workload] because it may give them more avenues."

Essentially, the crime analyst will be looking at incidents that have already occurred. Detectives will go out into the field, and the crime analyst will work on information brought back.

"I think the great thing about this is this could be wide open for us," said Mercer. "Because this crime analyst can do so many more things."

"Once you can get all that information together, there's sometimes light at the end of the tunnel. Pieces start coming together. It gives you more areas to go into and investigate to see what exactly might be going on," Mercer said.

The FCSO formally made the request to fund a crime analyst last year in an effort to better analyze crime trends, gather information, and keep records. Around that time, a string of burglaries prompted the FCSO to call in one of Loudoun's crime analysts, which streamlined the investigation and helped solve the case, according to Mercer.

The approved salary range for the crime analyst is $47,985.60 to $76,752.00, a ccording to Fauquier County's budget director Erin Kozanecki.

"I think it will benefit us, it will benefit the citizens of the county, and not only us but the surrounding jurisdictions in the state, " Mercer said. "We're very pleased that the board had the foresight to see that this is something that we needed."

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