NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Twenty three officers will join Metro police's weekend gang enforcement initiative.
Beginning Friday, they will work to reduce crime in known gang areas and suspected gang-related crime hotspots.
Last year, Operation Safer Streets netted 2,078 arrests, 432 drug seizures, 45 gun confiscations and the execution of 377 outstanding warrants, according to Metro police.
Police said the numbers for gang activity stayed pretty constant, but this initiative is credited with being an effective way to reduce gang activity before it gets worse.
"There are some places in Nashville where these gang members have made it their mission to destroy the quality of life in neighborhood," said Metro Police Chief Ronal Serpas. "We're just not going to tolerate it."
While the officers will patrol areas with known gang activity including Antioch and Madison, Serpas said, "We're not safe until every single neighborhood is safe."
Fourteen officers devoted to the gang unit saturate different areas on the weekends.
Adding 23 more officers "sends a message to gang bangers that we're not going to put up with their criminal activity," said Capt. Todd Henry, who directs Operation Safer Streets.
The officers, mostly in uniform, will target each hot spot several times each weekend. By spreading out the resources, police hope their presence prevents crime.
"I think the people who are still held hostage in many cases by these violent criminals and gang members, they're going to see a whole lot of police activity," Henry said.
Gang activity is not necessarily on the rise. Serpas said crime is down four years in a row. But of the crime that does occur such as murder, rape and robbery, much of that is linked to more than just an individual but to a gang of criminals police are prepared to target.
"The message to bad guys is we're here, if you commit a crime, go to jail, get out, we'll still be here and you'll go to jail again," Henry said.
The 23 officers used to be a part of a program called Mission One. In that program, some officers and detectives worked one weekend day a month to help out patrol.
Now, all of those officers will focus on gang activity and high-crime areas. They will work on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. However, if statistics show other nights would be more productive, the schedule will change.