Pasco Street Crimes Unit off to a big start

PASCO, Wash. -- It's just after 10 A-M for the Pasco Street Crimes Unit... An unwanted wake-up call on a suspected gang member.

An officer puts a suspect in handcuffs and asks, "Anything on you I need to know about?"

The unit is made up of four officers. They focus on proactive patrols rather than reactive response.

Sgt. Monroe explains, "Not tied down, responding to calls for service, we have more flexibility to go out and attack ongoing problems."

Like keeping tabs on this house in East Pasco.

"Last week I drove by and saw gang members outside the house and called his probation officer,"Officer Chad Pettijohn tells KEPR.

Officers had time to watch the house and know who was going inside.

That surveillance turned up this woman. She'd been let out of jail just hours earlier. And neighbors said she was turning drug deals within moments. Pasco Police worked with the landlord to get her evicted immediately. They hope to re-arrest her on new charges.

The Pasco Street Crimes Unit is being paid for with the crime tax voters approved. Since then, they've made 28 arrests, including 16 documented gang members. More than half those arrests include new criminal charges.

A variety of drugs, paraphernalia and money from just one warrant served at the Pasco Motel 6. It's just the kind of raid the on-duty patrol officers wouldn't have had time for.

"This used to be the bread and butter of Pasco Police... Go out and do proactive policing. Pasco grew so fast, so quickly, we were very understaffed," Sgt. Monroe says.

Officers expected these big results. They knew the problems were out there, just no officers dedicated to solving them.

"The goal is to clean up the neighborhood."

That goal is off to a quick start As of now, the Street Crimes officers are mostly working day shifts. As the summer gets closer, they will add night shifts as well.