Gulfport police taking small steps to stop big crime

Gulfport police taking small steps to stop big crime

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - The Gulfport Police Department is taking its fight against crime into the neighborhoods.

Wednesday, the department joined forces with other local, state and federal agencies to serve warrants and make arrests as part of a series of random sweeps to deter crime.

For GPD, it takes small steps to stop big crime.

"What we're trying to do is expend resources to bring out a deterrence to these smaller things, so they aren't escalating into the bigger ones," said Gulfport Police Chief Leonard Papania.

About a year ago, Papania launched an attack on what he called the 'criminal subculture' in the city.

"The one thing we're seeing in a lot of these violent crimes is they are the result of petty criminal acts that are occurring before," Papania said.

The crime sweep week involved about 60 officers divided into four teams. Officers served initial warrants at several stops simultaneously throughout the city, and were prepared to make arrests for misdemeanor or felony crimes.

Papania says many people don't realize that violent crimes have small beginnings.

"They assume it's occurring over something really big, hundreds of thousands of dollars, cars - and it's not," Papania said. "The sad thing is what is occurring here is petty crimes are escalating into serious, violent crime."

The arrests, he says, are a result of teamwork.

"I think we're making an impact, but we're not making that impact by ourselves," Papania said. "What you're seeing is the results of a partnership with our community. When we're going into these neighborhoods, we're not going in without an invitation. There are people that are desperate to see an improvement in their quality of life."

The chief says the sweeps will continue to be random for good reason.

"It's a cat and mouse game. Bad guys are always trying to figure out what we're going to do next, and I like it that way," added Papania.

During Wednesday's sweep, police served eight search warrants and made six felony arrests. Five arrests were drug related and one was for a probation violation. Gulfport police also made seven misdemeanor arrests.

According to Papania, statistically, Gulfport's total crime is down 9 percent and violent crime is down 6 percent from 2015.

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