Metro residents feel safer with Operation Safer Streets - WKRN News 2

Metro residents feel safer with Operation Safer Streets

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -

When Karla Stembridge checks her mail she is careful not to get too close to the edge of the sidewalk in front of her Paragon Mills Road home.

The busy street is full of cars zipping past.

It is a lot different from when Stembridge and her husband bought their home.

"It has grown a lot since we have been here across the street from me was just woods," she said. "They have also built homes further down Paragon Mills and there is a lot of traffic."

The increased growth also brought an increase in crime to the neighborhood. Paragon Mills Road is one of the areas officers working with Operation Safer Streets targets.

Operation Safer Streets is a gang enforcement initiative. Officers in each of Nashville's seven precincts work with detectives in the Specialized Investigations Division to find ways of combating gang crime and activity.

The operation started in 2006 when Sergeant Gary Kemper asked patrol officers to accompany gang suppression officers on patrol.

"It makes a huge impact," he said. "The areas have changed through out the years. When we knew we had a gang problem in one area we would hit it real hard."

The unit focuses on areas with high instances of gang activity. Officers work varying hours Friday through Sunday. They do not respond to calls.

The officers focus on proactive steps to stop crimes before they happen.

So far in 2012 the operation has resulted in 2,427 arrests on 148 felony charges, 14 gun seizures, the service of 179 warrants, 320 field interviews of people believed to have gang knowledge and 11,026 vehicle stops in areas with a gang presence.

The latest operation was last weekend beginning Friday and ending Sunday. It resulted in 47 arrests.

Officers also seize illegal drugs and weapons. Over the weekend officers seized 9.5 grams of marijuana, 3.4 grams of cocaine, 3.1 grams of methanphetamines, 26 pills and a gun.

"Two hundred forty-two guns off the street since '06 is a huge impact," Sgt. Kemper said. "Neighbors like to see us out there."

He continued, "To me it is working and it grows a relationship between your detectives and your patrol officers."

Stembridge has taken note of more officers in her neighborhood.

"I do see [patrol officers] up and down the road a lot more than it used to be I think," she said. "It feels good knowing that they are near if I need them."

Operation Safer Streets is part of the chief of police's plan to reduce violent crime by 1.5 percent and reduce property crime by six percent by 2013.

Chief Steve Anderson outlined those goals as part of Metro Nashville's 2013 budget for Metro Nashville's Police Department.

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