Keeping gangs off Pasco streets

Keeping gangs off Pasco streets »Play Video
PASCO, Wash. -- You're paying for it, but are you getting their money's worth?

A public safety tax approved by voters two years ago keeps the Pasco Street Crimes unit in business.

Pasco is the safest it's been in years, and things are only getting better.

Luana Weatherly said, "I'm not afraid to walk at night. I walk around the complex and it's not fenced in or anything."

She's seen the city's struggle with crime.

She was here nearly 20 years ago when Pasco Police had more than 1500 gang incidents happened in one year. That's a few every day.

Fast forward to 2013, and those numbers drop more than 75 percent.

As for gang violence, those stats are dropping, too, falling more than half compared to last year. Largely, in part, thanks to the Pasco Street Crimes Unit.

KEPR followed the squad as they made arrests, looking to take even more wanted gang members off the streets.

Not only do the officers announce their arrival, but they get the place surrounded. It keeps problems contained, and neighborhoods safer.

Sgt. Jason Miller said, "We want to make sure that they're not jumping out of windows, which happens all the time. We don't want to chase people."

After a thorough search of this house, they come up empty.

So it was onto the next stop, guns drawn, the Pasco Street Crimes Unit surrounds another house. Once again, they came up empty.

Sgt. Jason Miller said, "Well, no luck again. Who would have thought that we'd have two gang members that get up early in the morning."

They'll keep at it and later that day they end up arresting six gang members, including one accused of selling pot to high schoolers.

This is why Luana voted for the public safety tax to help pay for this proactive policing.

She said, "We need to support our police officers. My goodness, how are we going to be safe?"

Giving law enforcement the support and tools to keep you safe.

The Street Crimes Unit does not do regular patrols. This frees them up to focus on crime and gang trends.

This helps them to better stay on top of problems, taking a proactive approach.