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Police chief wants to expand street crimes unit after it cuts burglaries

By Emily Ford
eford@salisburypost.com
SALISBURY — Police Chief Rory Collins made a pitch for expanding his new street crimes unit by detailing the team’s success during a recent five-week operation in a Salisbury neighborhood.
The Police Interdiction Team, dubbed the PIT Team and featuring a menacing pit bull logo, staked out the Brooklyn South Square neighborhood from Dec. 21 through Jan. 29, acting on information about crime in the area.
As the result of the operation, burglaries fell by 66 percent and disturbances decreased by 42 percent in Brooklyn South Square, compared to the same period last year, police said. Service of arrest warrants jumped by 850 percent.
Collins, Lt. Brian Stallings and Sgt. John Lanier spoke to the City Council on Friday during a strategy planning session. They discussed the effectiveness of the PIT Team since the unit’s inception March 2011.
“I would love to double this unit,” Collins said. “It would have a significant impact on the community.”
The team includes three leaders and six police officers.
“The beauty of this team is we receive a complaint this morning and tonight, we are there,” Collins said.
During the Brooklyn South Square operation, the team spent 291 hours on foot patrol and made 36 arrests and served nine warrants for arrest.
They conducted 120 traffic stops, seized cocaine and marijuana, handed out 84 citations and served search warrants at four addresses.
In the PIT Team’s first 10 months, officers made 377 arrests, including 17 for driving while intoxicated, and served 196 warrants. They seized 193 grams of cocaine worth about $9,600, 901 grams of marijuana worth about $9,000 and 295 prescription pills worth about $11,000.
PIT officers also served 18 search warrants, which each take hours of surveillance to obtain, police said.
The team is the most dynamic unit in the police department, Stallings said, and members deal with the most violent people in the city. The team receives martial arts training every week at no cost to the city and responds to calls throughout the city that involve drugs or gangs, as well as other street crimes.
Most importantly, Collins said, the team works proactively in areas of the city at high risk for criminal activity. Officers were hand-selected for their work ethic, he said.
“This is the most highly motivated team I’ve ever worked with,” Lanier said.
Council members said it shows.
Street crime has fallen near his real estate office on East Fisher Street, Councilman William “Pete” Kennedy said.
“This is the quietest I have ever observed,” said Kennedy. “You are doing a great job.”
Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.

Helping out as Democrats come to Charlotte

The Salisbury Police Department’s PIT Team will provide protection and security during the National Democratic Convention in September.
Chief Rory Collins and Deputy Chief Steve Whitley have signed a mutual aid agreement with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department.
The federal government will reimburse Salisbury for the cost of sending officers to the event, Collins said.

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