Formed in mid-April 2014
578 – citations written
110 - drug arrests
295 - total arrests
Specialized Patrol Unit
Lt. Al Miller
Officer Daniel Digby
Officer Grant Satterfield
Officer Chris Smith
Officer Hayward DeRouen *
Lt. Wendell Wagstaff *
*reassigned as S.P.U. was reduced to four members on Feb. 26
A stretch of 19 photos lined a long table at the Covington Police Department with large bags of marijuana next to some, small bags next to others and other drug paraphernalia accompanying yet other photos of people recently taken off the streets of Covington.
The February show and tell session marked months of investigation, and the fruits of those labors by the Specialized Patrol Unit formed by the CPD in April.
After the CPD held a department-wide reorganization in April of 2014, patrol Captain Philip Bradford opted to bring back a patrol unit he helped to start in 1998. The then Viper (Variable Intensive Patrol Enforcement and Response) Unit lasted until 2005, and from that point until April 2014 all patrol officers had to jump at any call in their search area no matter what they were currently working on.
Starting in April six officers were selected to focus on one area – narcotics.
Since then the Specialized Patrol Unit, recently reduced to four officers, has tallied 395 arrests, including 110 for drugs, and written 578 citations.
“This is what is so special about that group: that is above the norm for a routine patrol division,” Capt. Bradford said. “If you were to just pull six people off patrol and pull their numbers, it’s not going to be anywhere near that. This is what is so special about the unit; they have time to put in to focusing on key spots in trouble areas.”
Those trouble areas are identified by suspicious activity seen by police, or more often a tip from citizens. Tips come in directly to the department, to an anonymous tip line or covingtonpolice.com. A lot of times citizens call in saying they witnessed sale of drugs or another crime and hang up. All the tips go in to a run sheet kept on a dry erase board at CPD telling officers which areas to look into.
The unit monitors the suspicious person or house and makes any arrests to further the case. Those arrested are then targeted to become informants, leading to getting drug dealers off Covington streets.
“The crime is here in the city,” Capt. Bradford said. “The more drug houses you have, the more crime. Everything feeds off drugs.”
Bradford added a scenario where if someone is hooked on cocaine, they will eventually run out of money to purchase it. From there thefts can occur, sometimes violently, to offer trades to the dealer.
“When we hit these drug houses you find all sorts of items at the house that are stolen,” Capt. Bradford said.
“I think it’s been successful,” Lt. Al Miller said. “Having a special unit has allowed us to take several officers and let us concentrate on specific problems that we have.”
Examples of the unit in action
Drug-free neighborhood a phone call away
A recent case by the Covington Police Department’s Specialized Patrol Unit took a little more drugs off the street, and it started with a phone call from a resident. To read more click here.
Shot one month, arrested the next
In December of 2014, a violent crime rang through Avery Street when Mario Smith was shot in the right elbow.
After the shooting Smith was identified as a drug suspect and the case went over to the Specialized Patrol Unit. To read more click here.