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TO CATCH A THIEF

Law expands suppression area.

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Following the success of its neighborhood crime-suppression efforts, the Shelby County Sheriff's Office plans to expand the sting operations to other parts of the county where their agency has primary jurisdiction, including the Northaven area.

According to Sheriff's Department spokesman Steve Shular, the neighborhood north of Frayser and other sections of the city will be targeted for various offenses ranging from traffic violations to aggravated assaults. "When [crime] gets to a point where it reaches a critical level, everything becomes zero-tolerance," said Shular.

In recent suppression operations in Whitehaven, Binghamton, and Midtown, the Sheriff's Department was called in to assist the Memphis Police Department. To combat rising numbers of serious offenses, the operation, usually consisting of 150 officers, pinpoints major intersections for any traffic violations, while fugitive-squad officers canvass the neighborhood for wanted suspects. "Once an initial traffic stop is made, that can give officers probable cause for a vehicle or individual search," said Shular. "For example, if, while a person is stopped, an officer sees a gun lying on the back seat, they can then search the vehicle and deal with the offender."

Officers involved in the operation are told which crimes to target, which fugitives are known to reside in the area, and then given the goals to accomplish. A portable booking area is set up to process offenders on the spot.

The latest suppression operation, held last week in Hickory Hill, lasted five hours and yielded 34 arrests (including 26 fugitives) and 195 traffic citations.

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