Due to the uptick in homicides and gun activity, Owensboro Police Department will be implementing its flex team — a group of officers who patrol the city and work to prevent a continuation of violent activity.
The OPD flex team was first organized and implemented last September after an outbreak of shootings and homicides. OPD saw success with the unit of four officers and one sergeant as violent crime decreased, and the team was disbanded after a few months in service.
However, OPD Public Information Officer Andrew Boggess said a new team of officers will be working to combat the violence that’s ensued in recent months. While the unit won’t just stick to one area in the city, their first focus of concern will be the northwest section of Owensboro, in and around the area where the most recent homicide occurred on West Ninth Street
“The nature of that unit is to be flexible. They won’t be subject to the same calls other officers are subject to,” Boggess said. “The northwest end of town has seen the most recent homicide and violent crime, but the flex team will be city-wide and mobile. They’ll respond wherever they need to respond.”
Boggess said the flex team achieved the desired effect last fall by bringing violent crime numbers down through enforcement and visibility of the areas they focused on.
“Enforcement isn’t really the focus, but to target violent crime is,” Boggess said. “Guns are a main focus because they relate to the violent crime we’re seeing. This unit is designed to make the community not only feel safer, but be safer.”
While the flex team will conduct random traffic stops as they make their appearance known in these areas, the point of these stops isn’t to issue traffic citations. The flex team will be on the lookout for weapons, drugs and those with active arrest warrants.
“Drugs are a component of the violence, so that’s something they’re focusing on,” Boggess said. “Enforcement will always be a secondary focus to being visible and making their presence felt.”
Officers chosen for the flex team will be those with the experience and knowledge to handle the ongoing violent activity Owensboro has incurred.
“They’ve been carefully selected by both their supervisors and our chief of police,” Boggess said.