VIPER Team set to kick off soon -, Albany News, Weather, Sports

VIPER Team set to kick off soon

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By LeiLani Golden - bio | email

BAINBRIDGE, GA (WALB) – A new crime task force is about to hit the streets in Bainbridge.

The Public Safety Department hopes it will reduce crime by fifty percent.

The Viper Team won't wait to get calls about crime. Officers will beef up patrols and keep a constant presence in high crime areas.

Some people in Bainbridge say crime has gotten out of control.

"You can't go to stores and things like you used to and people can't sit out on their porches like they used to," says concerned citizen Andrew Jackson. "They be afraid of someone coming in and robbing them."

But that may all change very soon. The Bainbridge Public Safety department is nearly set to kick off a new unit that could decrease crime by up to fifty percent. The new unit will be called Viper.

"It's Variable Intensive Patrol Enforcement and Response," explains Sgt. James Dollar, Viper Team Leader. "It'll fall under the criminal investigation division."

The Viper Team is modeled after a successful program in Covington, a community similar to Bainbridge.

"They saw enormous results nearly immediately, within a year or two." continued Sgt. Dollar. "A drop in crime, assaults, and drug activity."

Officers saw a need for Viper when they realized not enough attention was being focused on high crime areas.

"When you're a standard patrol officer you react. You're answering calls and you might see things you want to pay attention to but you can't because someone is being assaulted or there is a crime occurring or a call for assistance. You can't stop because you have to prioritize. This team won't have that problem."

The cop grant-funded, four-man team will have a zero tolerance policy when dealing in problem areas. But enforcement won't be their only goal.

"Often, officers remain in the car as nameless, faceless officers. We want our officers to get out of the cars and talk to the community about what they're seeing and what we can do better to help them."

To help the people of Bainbridge feel a lot safer in their town.

Bainbridge Public Safety is in the process of getting new equipment, uniforms, and cars for the Viper Team. They hope to have the unit up and running in the next couple weeks.

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