When officer Casey Hatchett gets home from her job in the Crime Analysis Unit, one of her four children will often ask her, did you help anyone today?
The answer is likely yes, which is one of the reasons Hatchett loves her work. The 17-year veteran of the Brookline Police Department and winner of the Brookline Community Foundation’s 2013 Unsung Hero Award, will have likely spent her workday culling and studying information about local traffic accidents, residential break-ins or personal theft cases. This work is vital to communicating emergency preparedness and crime prevention tips to the public.
Hatchett’s community involvement extends beyond data analysis. As treasurer of the Jennifer A. Lynch Committee Against Domestic Violence, she may have spent time with local teens, talking about the warning signs of dating violence. She might have sat on a panel of the Brookline Commission for Women, for whom she serves as co-chair. Or as an adjunct professor at Fisher College, she might have taught a criminal justice class, giving students a glimpse of what it’s really like to work in law enforcement—insights they can’t get from TV.
In November this “unsung hero” will finally step into the limelight (for a good cause, of course), competing in Dancing with the Brookline Stars 2015 to raise money for the Jennifer A. Lynch Committee Against Domestic Violence.
From Patrolling to Prevention
Hatchett was in her 20s when she joined the BPD, first assigned to the patrol division doing shift work. These days she works in the Crime Analysis Unit, which didn’t exist when she first started at the station. The Boston University Political Science major had been considering law school, but a job speechwriting for former Boston Police Commissioner Kathleen O’Toole (the first female to hold the position) inspired Hatchett to take the police exam instead.
Joining her at the Norwood Police Academy were 12 candidates who would end up working with her at the Brookline Police Department. Hatchett’s early days with so many of her fellow officers would inspire a fierce desire in her to do whatever she could to make a BPD cop’s job safer.
Hatchett’s role in the crime analysis unit involves pulling all criminal activity reported to the BPD and looking for patterns and trends—zeroing in on where crimes are happening so resources can be deployed to those areas. Her daily efforts help keep both the community and her fellow cops informed about crimes in particular areas. “I can be part of helping prevent victimization,” Hatchett tells me by phone.
Crime analysis also involves building a profile on repeat offenders. What goods do they target? Jewelry? Electronics? How do they enter the residence? Do they use rear doors, windows, do they push up screens or strong-arm doors?
“I look at what’s going on with a suspect,” Hatchett says, “If they’re stealing jewelry at the end of the week, they might have a gambling habit and they want to sell the goods before they hit the casinos on the weekend.”
Through crime analysis she begins to see what events are predictable (and therefore more preventable) and which events are unexpected. Robberies tend to have similarities—from the robbers MO to the weapons they carry and what they write in the note passed to a store clerk or bank teller.
Other crimes are less predictable, says Hatchett—for instance domestic violence and assault cases, which are more situational.
Brookline Crime Overview
The majority of crimes in Brookline these days are property crimes. “There’s a lot of wealth in this community,” Hatchett explains, “The goods are good in Brookline.”
This past summer there was an uptick in residential break-ins. Surprisingly, multi-unit apartment buildings with 4-6 units were more popular targets than the large single-family homes you’ll find all over Brookline. Specific hot spots for this recent burglary pattern included Park, Beacon, Harvard and Fairbanks Streets. All of the residences recently hit on these streets have been in multi-unit buildings.
Hatchett says that there may be several reasons for this. Most people who live in multi-unit buildings are young professionals who are predictably out during the day, whereas in single-family residences a parent, child, or senior might be at home. Also, once a home invader is in an apartment building, it’s easier for him or her to hit several residences at once if they don’t find what they’re looking for in the first unit. If a resident discovers the perpetrator in his or her apartment, the perp can pretend to have wandered into the wrong apartment looking for someone else.
There is also a rise in complaints in September when college students are back in town, Hatchett says. The BPD finds themselves answering more calls from North Brookline, near the Brookline /Allston border and Boston University. The most common incidences involve excessive noise, theft from vehicles and valuables stolen while students are in the middle of moving in to off-campus apartments.
The changing times seem to dictate certain criminal trends. For instance, Hatchett recalls when GPS devices were just starting to become ubiquitous in cars. Soon there were multiple car break-ins where GPS units were being stolen. When online shopping began to take off, more and more residents were reporting stolen packages. Now smart phones are the most popular item thieves steal.
Hatchett also analyzes motor vehicle crashes, looking for “traffic crash hotspots.” Again, she looks at what hours and days of the week the crashes happen so that more police can be deployed to those hotspots on those days and times.
Although crime in Brookline was up 12% in the middle of this year, that number has gone down by 8% since July 1st. Overall, crime is down more than 60% over the last twenty years.
Crime Prevention Begins at Home
Hatchett tries to remind people that a little crime prevention can go a long way. There are simple ways to reduce incidences like car break-ins, common sense measures such as: don’t leave valuables visible in the car and always roll your windows up and lock your car doors when the vehicle is not in use. Package thefts are also commonplace and can be avoided by acting neighborly. If you live in an apartment building, bring any packages you see in the vestibule inside so they’re safely behind the second, locked door. Hatchett advises residents who have had problems with package theft before to have items delivered to the office or ask for a signature to be required before the delivery person leaves the package behind.
Active is the Keyword
When Hatchett is not steeped in crime statistics, she’s keeping physically active, maintaining a healthy mind and body. She’s run in the last three Boston Marathons, is an outdoors enthusiast and a self-described “workout junkie.” Hatchett is currently taking dance lessons in preparation for this year’s Dancing with the Brookline Stars 2015 charity event on Nov. 7. She is also a busy mom to four very active kids: three boys and a girl, ages 11, 9, 7 and 4.
Out of all four kids, it is Hatchett’s daughter who will most likely follow in her mother’s footsteps.
“She’s not a princess, she’s a warrior,” Hatchett jokes.
“They love that Mom is a cop. They think it’s awesome. And my husband is very supportive.” Being an organizer with the Brookline Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) means that Hatchett might get a call in the middle of the night requesting assistance. She hates being away from her family, but she knows she’s doing work that benefits the community. And she wants to lead by example for her kids.
She is also helping to keep her fellow officers informed, which Hatchett hopes will make their job safer.
“I have an incredible amount of respect for my brother and sister officers. I’ll do anything I can to support their work on the street and make their job easier and safer.”
—By Jennifer Campaniolo