The city's newest anti-crime unit is making inroads in reducing violent crime, Mayor Byron W. Brown and Police Commissioner H. McCarthy Gipson said Friday.
During a news conference in the former Kmart parking lot on Broadway, the mayor and police commissioner released the first-quarter results of the Mobile Response Unit formed three months ago. The special police department unit was designed to target and eliminate gangs and trafficking in illegal drugs and guns.
"As a result of that, the overall crime in the City of Buffalo has also shown a decrease," Gipson said.
Through March 31, Gipson said, the unit has been responsible for 569 arrests, impounding 58 vehicles, issuing 31 search warrants, seizing $44,771 in cash and confiscating 36 illegal guns from alleged criminals.
"It's a more sustained form of policing that is focused on intelligent policing, that is focused on crime analysis and data," said Brown.
The information released Friday does not compare it with arrest data, search warrants and seizures performed during the same period last year. Gipson, however, said that there were five fewer homicides so far this year compared to the same period last year -- from 20 in 2006 to 15 so far this year.
Brown said Friday that the crime data resulting from the efforts of the Mobile Response Unit will be reported quarterly from now on.
"We're going to continue to report out the statistics of this unit so the members of our community can judge for themselves how successful the unit has been," he said.
The Mobile Response Unit, which began operations on Jan. 14, replaces the department's Flex Unit and the old Operation Strike Force.
"The biggest difference between this and previous operations of the Flex Unit and the Strike Force is we have detectives assigned to the Mobile Response Unit who debrief every arrest that is made by our patrol officers and gather intelligence and other information and use that information to obtain search warrants and further investigations," Gipson said.
Through the unit, the police department is also developing information on local gangs, which recently led to the arrest of a member of a national gang who was visiting the area from California.