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MPD Precinct Task Forces Tackle Crime Hot Spots

You've seen the numbers, violent crime is down dramatically in Memphis.
MEMPHIS, TN - You've seen the numbers, violent crime is down dramatically in Memphis. Major strides have been made in reducing overall crime. MPD's “Blue Crush” gets a lot of credit. Cops target crime-ridden areas. Eyewitness News rode along with the cops on the streets, who are getting the job done.

Blue Crush includes a lot of different strategies. One of them is putting task forces in each of the precincts. This group of officers goes into problem areas to track down criminals. Thursday, we watched them in action and thought you'd want to come along.

Tillman station task force is meeting to establish targets. They get their assignments and hit the streets.

“We just come in, go over the reports, do follow ups. If we develop suspects, we scoop them up," said task force member Officer Andy Kosso.

Thursday, sights were set on a burglary suspect. Home burglaries are the biggest problem for the Tillman Precinct. Officers talk to people in the area, they get a tip their man could be headed for his parents house across town. They head there.

“It's what's necessary when you start talking about crime reduction,” said Tillman Station Lt. Col. Rowena Adams. “I think it's important that they're not restricted to a particular ward or area. I think that they need to have free reign of the precinct, and, in some instances, even to go outside of their precincts.”

Task force officers respond to a wide range of calls, from traffic tickets, to stolen electronics behind a known drug house. Blocks away, they swarm a house looking for a woman wanted on federal warrants.

“When you’re trying to address crime problems, you want the officers who are going to be aggressive about it,” said Adams.

But they also get to know everyone on the street... good and bad.

“They know these people,” said Adams. “They deal with them on a day-to-day basis, and that helps in solving crimes.”

Col. Jeff Clark is the Commander at Tillman Station. He says this task force is getting results. Since it's formation in August of 2009 year ago, officers have made more than 600 arrests, most of them felonies. They've issued at least 570 misdemeanor citations. Col. Clark says there have been 900 fewer crimes in the precinct this year, compared to this time last year.

MPD says technology is playing a huge role in fighting crime.

You've probably seen cop driving around in cars with the odd-looking cameras on top. Those are License Plate Readers, or LPRs. Instead of cops typing in every tag number into a computer and running the plates, the LPRs do it for them. It's helping them police efficiently, and that's not the only technology getting results.

Every officer now carries a PDA. They can check your background on the spot.

“Arrest information, traffic tickets, anything you want to know about him, we can find out,” said Kosso.

And if you've got a past, cops know what they're getting into.

“Think about the time that it saves, but, also, the safety factor for the officers,” said Lt. Col. Adams. “Because you might not take the same approach if you knew the person was wanted.”

If they're looking for suspects, there's a picture of them in the palm of their hand. And typing up a report on these is a big change from the days of writing one up back at the station.

“It's gone from anywhere to an hour, an hour and a half to actually take the report and two to three days to actually get it processed into the system,” said Adams. “And it's streamlined that to maybe about three minutes tops.”

Crime is down at Tillman Station and all over Memphis. Cops say these high-tech tools help.

“With that mix, the manpower and the equipment, we can actually make a difference in crime reduction,” said Adams.

Police Director Larry Godwin says he's constantly looking for technology grants. He says we can expect more cameras and more equipment in the near future. Some of the new technology for MPD will include ankle monitors for suspects out on bond. We've also told you about Director Godwin's plan to monitor juvenile gun offenders.
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