By Sheryl Stanley
Cass County Sheriff Jeff Weber has a short, but pointed message for those who would break the law and victimize the residents of Cass County.
The one-quarter cent sales tax for county law enforcement activities that was passed in 2017 is now providing revenues to help the sheriff’s department fund several enhancements to its overall mission.
One of the newest is the Criminal Apprehension Unit (CAU) which was launched earlier this month.
As the name implies, the new unit is targeting known criminals, repeat offenders and that small segment of our society that degrade the quality of life in Cass County.
Weber said most of the local police agencies, including departments in Belton, Raymore and Harrisonville, use the same software as the sheriff’s office to track the numbers and types of criminal activity, so by sharing data they can improve efficiencies across the board. Often, when the data is analyzed, deputies can determine that many crimes are committed by repeat offenders.
“Our philosophy will be one of focused deterrence, where we will focus official and community attention and resources on the relatively few individuals who commit a disproportionate number of crimes and remove any sense of anonymity they might think they enjoy,” Weber said.
The CAU will emphasize four critical methods in their new response.
First, timely and accurate intelligence gathered through the normal course of police work and including any tips received.
Second, a rapid deployment of resources.
Third, effective tactics to interrupt criminal activity and four, relentless follow-up.
The CAU is part of the Special Operations Division and will be staffed by a sergeant, two detectives/crime analysts, two K-9 units and eight deputies.
Although the unit has only four deputies at the moment, Weber said the remainder will be selected and brought into the team after the current class of recruits in the sheriff’s academy graduate in December.
“When we have those new people in place in the department, then we can shift some of our experienced personnel into the CAU. We should be fully staffed by spring 2019,” Weber said.
As part of their resources, the Criminal Apprehension Unit will have easily recognizable vehicles. Ford Police Interceptor SUVs will be utilized with a different paint from other sheriff’s department cars and clearly identified as a Criminal Apprehension Unit vehicle.
Each will carry two men and be equipped with a digital tablet, fingerprint scanner for rapid identification of suspects and license plate readers that can scan traffic and alert officers if they encounter another car that has been reported as stolen.
Weber said the new CAU personnel may respond to major in-progress incidents if needed, but they will not perform routine patrol activities.
The Criminal Apprehension Unit began work Oct. 3 and, according to Weber, after only five days it had already tallied 81 vehicle stops, resulting in 29 citations, 12 probation and parole violations and 25 arrests.