Police Dept. starts crime suppression unit

Published 7:55 pm Monday, March 20, 2017

Selma Police Chief Spencer Collier hopes a new unit dedicated to preventing crime will make an impact on the community.

Collier said Monday the Selma Police Department’s Crime Suppression Unit officially launched last week after a Selma police officer was shot at. It was the third instance of an officer being shot at within a six-week time frame.

“We’ve been trying to create a small tactical unit that does nothing but proactive policing and crime suppression. Their single charge is crime suppression,” Collier said. “I’ve been working on it for a few weeks … and it kind of really took off on its own the other morning. We were trying to get to an official start date, but I went ahead and pulled the trigger on it.”

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Collier said the department has to start being proactive instead of reactive to help reduce crime in Selma.

“I’m convinced if we have a heavier proactive presence we can deter a lot of these crimes. Then the patrol shifts won’t be as busy just simply responding,” Collier said. “You just can’t police when everyone is in a reactive mode. You have to have a proactive element, and that’s what these five officers will be assigned to.”

The unit will be made up of a mix of investigators and K-9 handlers within the department, who Collier said are trained tactically.

“We have no choice but to be more tactical,” Collier said. “I don’t want to alarm the public and them think that we’re the military, but what these guys are taking on, we just have to be able to match weapons with them, have the proper body armor and tactical gear to do the job.”

Collier said officers have to be more protected and better armed to handle themselves in instances like last week when shooters opened fire with high-powered rifles.

Collier said the officers assigned to the unit will have a number of duties.

Of course, they’ll back up patrol if needed, but all five are tactical operators and certified SWAT and will be working various shifts based on the intelligence that we have to try and be more proactive,” Collier said.

“Proactively, they’ll work anything from narcotics to surveillance to gathering intelligence, providing a presence in hot spots, all the way down to foot patrols in certain areas.”

Collier said he is also looking at other changes in the department.

“The argument has been we need everyone in patrol, we’re short, and we are,” Collier said. “So I am looking at some shift changes for patrol, maybe combining some platoons. I’m waiting to meet with my command staff on that.”