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NET, K-9

units combine forces

[08/06/01] The Vicksburg Police Department’s Neighborhood Enhancement Team is back on the streets, with a new bite, after being disbanded in March because of a personnel shift.

“We will respond to public problems and increase the image of the police department with them,” said Lt. Bobby Stewart, the new head of the high-visibility NET unit.

Stewart also is in charge of the department’s K-9 unit, so the two units are working together, he said.

He said having dogs patrol with the team will add a benefit.

“Dogs in the high-crime areas will alleviate problems by enhancing the NET team in finding narcotics and taking them off the street,” Stewart said.

The main charges of NET are to step up enforcement and patrols in areas where citizen complaints are frequent about drugs, disturbances, loitering and other problems. Stewart said the group also works from suggestions received by different units in the police department.

Police Chief Mitchell Dent said the two units working together creates an advantage for the 103-person department.

When a dog can’t be effective because too many potential suspects are in the same area, the increased personnel because of the NET team gives officers a chance to make an arrest.

“While the officers may conduct interviews of people who are gathered there at the scene, the K-9 officer may allow his dog to check the area for illegal drugs,” Dent said.

The NET team was disbanded in March as the department moved personnel to temporarily beef up police presence in the northern part of the city, the chief said.

The community policing team, initially established in March 1999, was previously under the leadership of Lt. Chip Denman, who now heads the Internal Affairs Division, and Sgt. Adarryll Dent.

“Another reason for that is not so much to increase the manpower in the patrol division, but these guys have attended courses in community-oriented policing. It is our desire for the philosophy of community oriented policing to go throughout the police department,” Dent said.

Dent said by rotating the personnel in the NET team, the philosophy of community service will permeate the police department.

“They are going to be able to take back a wealth of knowledge from that community to the area and hopefully enhance our ability to serve the community more efficiently and more effectively,” he said.

Officers will be rotated in an out on a quarterly or biannually basis, Stewart said.

Officers Rick Jordan, Taffi Mills, E.J. Wilkerson, Bo McLeod, Norman Harris and Sgt. Randy Blake are the newest members of the team.