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Newly formed “Street Level Crimes Unit” shows progress in Abbeville

Posted: 6:43 PM, Sep 11, 2018
Updated: 2018-09-11 19:51:49-04

Abbeville Police and The Vermilion Parish Sheriff’s Office are working together in a newly-formed initiative targeting crime in the city.

The new section is called the “Street Level Crimes Unit.”

“We’re talking about drug dealing, illegal carrying of weapons, gambling, fighting,” said Abbeville Police Chief William C. Spearman.

Those are the crimes the members of the Street Level Crime Unit are fighting.

Abbeville Police use research from the Vermilion Sheriff’s Narcotic Task Force to send off-duty officers to patrol specific areas of the city.

“We have time to go out there and spend time surveilling our areas, and driving around these areas, and staying in these areas. Where a shift officer may get a call on the South Side of town and have to go on the North Side of town to handle something else. Or we may have a shoplifting where an officer would have to leave a patrol to go to the store to pick up the shoplifter,” explained Spearman.

The officers spend their time tracking suspects with felony warrants, and members of the city’s gangs.

“They don’t classify themselves as a gang, they like to call themselves rappers. Fighting, shooting at each other, selling basically about anything,” said Senior Patrol Officer Shawn LaStraps.

Officers say synthetic marijuana is the most prevalent drug in Abbeville right now.

“They kinda act like zombies. They’ll smoke a little bit of it and they become unresponsive, sometimes react aggressively,” said Senior Patrol Officer Taylor Jones.

The unit has been successful since starting in July.

Last week they carried out a drug bust and recovered stolen guns.

“We usually have a lot of units out just showing a high presence trying to disrupt anything they do, because people don’t want to go buy drugs when there’s a cop circling a block,” said Jones.