Sep 4, 2012 1:00 AM by Lupita Murillo
TUCSON - It's a unit within the Pima County Sheriff's department you seldom hear about, but the work they do helps detectives sort out complicated cases.
Phil Berikoff is one of the criminal analysts. In a previous career, he tracked down criminals all over the world. Some were wanted by the Hague and the UN War Crimes Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.
Berikoff says "The tribunal gave me the opportunity to dig deeper into law enforcement type investigations." He's among a dozen people who work in the unit that analyzes information to create intelligence used in criminal investigations.
News 4 Tucson's Lupita Murillo followed Berikoff on a day when he was looking into burglaries. Every day he goes through case reports, analyzes them and comes up with "MO's."
One of Berikoff's jobs is to determine "the times that burglars normally commit their crimes, and hopefully come up with the locations, so we can advise the patrol deputies, and they increase the patrols in that area," he says.
He also comes up with flow charts detailing names, associations, and friends. He's done this for detectives on gang members and murder investigations. The charts help by providing possible leads or gives detectives other avenues to look at.
Tom Peine, is the department's public information officer. Before this he was a detective. He says the unit is very helpful, and they're instrumental, especially in complex cases that detectives deal with on a day to day basis.
Given Berikoff's background and experience, complex cases are what he's all about.
"If an arrest is made, and a conviction is made, I know that we have helped get someone off the street that has committed a crime and hurt a lot of victims," he says.
Berikoff also works with other agencies sharing intelligence. In February, he helped track down criminals taking debit card information from gas pumps. It turns out the suspects were part of an Armenian gang out of California.