HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - Huntsville is taking more steps to tackle violent crime.
City leaders have moved to expand a special unit within the police department.
Officials revealed what the team does and how their increased presence will help the city's effort to combat violence.
In the wake of recent tragedies like the Huntsville three-year-old struck and killed by a bullet fired into her home last week, there's been a push for action and public safety improvements. HPD says adding to this unit is part of that ongoing effort.
The group of officers is specifically working to combat violent crime on the city's streets. They're called the Anti-Crime Team. It was created two years ago, and its members are already getting recognition.
"Just last year, they were awarded a unit citation for their productivity," said HPD spokesman Lt. Michael Johnson.
In 2017 alone, the team made 467 arrests, of which 129 were felonies; and recovered 56 firearms. Fourteen of them were stolen.
They're an arm of HPD's Criminal Investigation Division and they work directly with investigators. They have time to do things patrol officers usually can't do, Johnson explained.
"The team has been instrumental due to their availability to perform pro-active work. It's that versatility and not being part of patrol manpower that makes them very effective," he added.
They gather intel, identify suspects and perform special details when the need arises. They've been so successful that last week, city leaders approved the addition of two more people to the team. It was initially composed of four team members and one sergeant. Now there will be six team members.
"It's in hopes that we'll dampen some of the violent crime. We've already been dampening it somewhat," Lt. Johnson said. "The four officers that were on the unit last year definitely had a lot of work to do and it's obvious that we have more work to do so we're adding two more bodies to the unit."
One of the key things the Anti-Crime Team will continue doing is building an intel database for repeat offenders in the community and with more help, Johnson says they'll be able to cover even more ground.
"The goal of the unit is to make the streets safer altogether," Johnson added. "We're hoping with additional officers on the team, that we'll produce more numbers."
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