I-team: Street Crimes Task Force
CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - It looks like it could be another long weekend for lawbreakers in southeast Missouri.
Just like last week, the Street Crimes task Force is out in force - this time in Sikeston.
Police officers from Cape Girardeau, Poplar Bluff and Charleston are helping the Sikeston Department of public Safety round up criminals on their streets.
The National Guard is even in on the act.
Totals for the night (May 2):
- 44 vehicle stops
- 39 written warning
- 22 Uniform traffic tickets
- 9 arrests
- 1 foot pursuit
Multiple warrant checks were done.
Several misdemeanor arrest were made for drugs.
Several off of a warrant list that were also arrested.
If you were in Cape Girardeau last Friday night (April 25), you likely saw an unprecedented group of more than two dozen officers from five different departments all working targeted patrols throughout town to take criminals off the streets.
“We’re not going to put up with it anymore,” said Cape Girardeau Police Chief Wes Blair of the rash of shootings, home invasions, and drug deals plaguing his city and others in southeast Missouri.
The newly formed Street Crimes Task Force went operational on April 25, but has been in the works for months.
I was granted exclusive access during the operation and behind the scenes to show you how the task force came together.
An outstanding warrant means a night in jail for one local man, arrested April 25 at a Cape Girardeau gas station.
Officers put him into a Sikeston police car, officers from Poplar Bluff were there to assist.
It's a multi-jurisdictional first that was several months in the making.
A rash of violent street crimes several months ago brought Chief Blair to a January meeting with veteran chiefs Drew Juden of Sikeston and Danny Whiteley of Poplar Bluff.
"We all have a set of rules we have to play by, they have no rules. They have no boundaries," Juden said of the criminals they were all dealing with.
The goal, they decided, was to get officers from each department to work together to crack down on the offenders who constantly move from one community to the other.
Officers from all three departments gathered April 8 in Sikeston.
Joining the newly formed Street Crimes Task Force is the Charleston Police Department, the Missouri Highway Patrol and SEMO Drug Task Force, even members of the Missouri National Guard.
"I hope we're able to put together and show how these criminal enterprises are moving throughout the area," Juden told the group.
They'll use Sikeston's Mobile Command Center as their mobile office, carry special ticket books for task force arrests, and share information with other departments via the state's Information Analysis Center.
"Team one and team two, I'm looking for Cape guys," Corporal Joey Hann told the group on April 25 at 7 p.m.
More than two dozen officers and support staff gathered in Cape Girardeau to finalize the operation.
There will be four teams, each targeting what is deemed high-crime neighborhoods. Several suspects wanted on warrants will be sought out.
"What do you guys use if you want an open line?" the head of communications asks the group.
Clearly the biggest challenge will be communication between officers who've never worked together before, all working the streets at the same time.
"I'm going to try and control the radio as much as I can," said reserve officer Justin Albright. "If you talk, I'm going to be right there to answer you. If you start screaming, we have help coming right away to you."
"SEMO 76, do we have any zone four car free?" SEMO Drug Task Force Agent Mike Alford calls into the radio.
I rode along with Alford as he looks for for possible violations to call into the officers staged in each zone.
"Yeah, I'm trying to catch up to it. Where are you? Right in front of you, bud."
"SEMO 76. 249. Stop that one in front of you," Alford told the car in front of him.
The concern about radio interference becomes a reality.
"257, we can't hear you at all," I heard from Alford’s radio.
But, the effort nets results. One stop leads to a handgun taken off the streets. A canine unit checks out a stopped truck.
Chiefs Blair and Juden worked a stop.
Overhead, a National Guard helicopter crew worked officer safety, ready to spotlight suspects on the run.
"They're right above us, aren't they?" I asked Juden of the chopper crew.
"Yes, they're right above us,” he said. “And they're just watching the general area around the area that we're working in."
"What is it like to be standing in downtown Cape Girardeau with the Sikeston Command Center behind you, with Charleston officers, Bluff officers, Highway Patrol all on your streets working together tonight?" I asked Chief Blair.
"You know, it's a natural fit," he said. "It's the way it ought to be. It ought to be all the agencies coming together, working together to make sure that all of southeast Missouri is a safer place,"
Cape PD reports 16 arrests that night on charges ranging from DUI to felony drug violations. Officers also wrote 25 citations.
The Street Crimes Task Force will continue operations each weekend, moving between Cape, Sikeston, Charleston, and Bluff as needed.
Some praising the effort, others call it too heavy-handed. Let us know what you think by leaving your comments below.
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