More felony arrests for KPD's Criminal Apprehension Team

KENNEWICK - We're coming out of a week with violent crime. Two homicides in Benton County. One in Benton City and yet another in Richland. Action News is following up on the efforts to curb these crimes.

It's the scene you'd expect in a bigger city. Drug deals and gang activity. But for segments of the Tri-Cities, it's an ongoing reality.

"Because with drugs goes along with guns. It goes along with gang activity," said 'Emily.'

'Emily' says she sees suspicious activity in her apartment complex all the time. She believes neighbors are selling drugs.

Reporter: "How does it make you feel when you see these people going in and out?"
"It scares me. It really does. Because you don't know exactly what's going on at what time," replied 'Emily.'

'Emily' took her concerns to the criminal apprehension team, otherwise known as CAT. A group of nighttime detectives from Kennewick Police.

"If they weren't doing their job, we would have a lot more going on than we do right now."

Before CAT was formed almost ten years ago, dayside detectives were on call 24/7. Now, the team relieves that burden. Hitting the streets to work narcotic and gang cases.

"We have more time to be proactive and look for crime that's going on out in the city," said Criminal Apprehension Team Cpl. Ryan Kelly.

Leaving 911 calls to patrol officers, CAT takes time to develop leads, scout out drug houses and monitor problem areas.

"If we get to work and gangs have been active that day, then we can go focus on the area where their activity was," explained Cpl. Kelly.

And the numbers show the efforts are paying off. CAT is pacing to make 25% to 40% more felony arrests than two years ago. But it doesn't mean there aren't challenges. The number of search warrants is going down. Officers say it's because marijuana is now legal. Now, officers can't issue a warrant if they smell weed. Detectives are left to use other avenues to track down drugs and illegally-possessed firearms. It's a team that works to keep your streets safe.

Richland Police formed the first proactive street crimes unit n the Tri-Cities. Just months before CAT started in 2004. Pasco launched their street crimes unit last year. The Benton County Gang Team also partners with CAT.