A sudden influx of gang activity and drug trafficking in the town of Levelland, Texas has saddled the 28 officers at the local police department full caseloads. Not only are they partnering with state and federal agencies to stop the gangs, but they are also managing the secondary crimes associated with drug use.
"When you're talking about gang membership, you're also talking about robberies, thefts, burglaries – those kinds of things," said Levelland Police Chief Albert Garcia.
While the first crime committed when dealing with narcotics is often transportation of a banned substance, the people who purchase the final product often do so using money from stolen goods.
"When it comes to substance abuse, the compulsion to use may lead those struggling with addiction to do just about anything to get their hands on more drugs – including stealing," according to an article written by Mental Health Worker Marisa Crane.
The Levelland PD is actively managing those cases by helping the victims to recover lost property and pursue justice, but the only way to truly stop these types of crimes is to remove the offender's access to drugs.
"One of the most important things that we try to stop is the influx of narcotics being transported through our city," Garcia said. "The methamphetamines are very prevalent in our area, just as it is throughout the entire State of Texas, but most of these narcotics are being transported, delivered, and sold by gang members."
To combat the gangs and stop the transport of drugs, Levelland PD has teamed up with area police departments as well as state and federal agencies. By sharing information between agencies and across jurisdictions, the involved police departments have been able to follow suspects from one community to another and eventually make an arrest.
In the spring of 2017, dozens of burglaries were reported in the city of Clovis.
Located in California’s Central Valley, Clovis averages approximately 1,000 burglaries per year. However, the city shares a border with the city of Fresno, which has the second-highest property crime rate in the county.
According to Sgt. James Munro of the Clovis Police Dept., law enforcement officers worked with crime analysts to determine a pattern among the burglaries. To do this, data was taken from the Clovis PD’s law enforcement records management system.
This data showed when and where individuals reported their vehicles were broken into along with what was stolen, which included wallets, purses, and valuables.
This information was gathered by victims' reports, security camera footage, time of day, and location of the burglaries. Individuals also reported the type of vehicle used to flee the scene, although none could get a read on the license plate number.
With all of this information, crime analysts with the Clovis PD were able to connect cases and identify a pattern.
"Our crime analysts were able to use this information generated from our records system, which helped us connect all of the open burglary cases," Munro said. "When you're able to connect cases not only can you potentially identify a suspect, but you can also start developing a crime pattern,".
By connecting cases and examining data within the police department's records system, a suspect was identified and his description was shared with officers.
The suspect was apprehended during a routine traffic stop when the patrol officer noticed he fit the description of the burglary suspect and had stolen property in his vehicle. The Clovis PD closed more than 40 open burglary cases as a result of arresting the individual.
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