Local agencies reflect on joint operation

By: 
Faith Lifer
Staff Writer

For two days this August, the U.S. Marshal Task Force, the Oktibbeha County Sheriff’s Department and the Starkville Police Department joined forces to lower criminal activity in Oktibbeha County.

“The main goal was focusing on lowering criminal activity,” SPD Public Information Officer Brandon Lovelady said. “Proactive policing is important to crime prevention and actively preventing crime.”

In total, 47 arrests were made during the operation and roughly 62 traffic citations were issued.

While the officers were on foot patrol, the operation gave them a chance to solely focus on areas with high incidents of crime or any area with criminal activity without the distractions that may occur day-to-day.

“This was a group of individuals who came in with the sole purpose of targeting high crime areas— with foot patrol and checkpoints and things like that— to try to proactively reduce crime,” Lovelady said.

Both city and county agencies significantly increased the number of staff working during those 48 hours.

A TEAM EFFORT

Along with increased staff, partnerships played a large role in making the operation possible.

One of those partnerships was one SPD has with the U.S. Marshal Task Force through one of the SPD officers.

“We have someone at our department who is a member of the U.S. Marshal Task Force,” Lovelady said. “We are provided more resources to make operations such as these more effective than we would if we didn’t have someone in that position.”

“Without calling someone else in to help, we have that outlet to get more assistance,” Lovelady added.

Outside of federal agencies, though, the local partnerships within Oktibbeha County played a vital role in the operation.

“I can’t speak for other communities, but our law enforcement agencies in Oktibbeha County have a great relationship,” Lovelady said. “All your local law enforcement agencies here in Oktibbeha County work very well together.”

Watson said he always feels comfortable picking up the phone and calling the other agencies in the county.

“That’s the way it’s been throughout my career,” Watson said of the 26 years he’s been with Oktibbeha County.

“We have always enjoyed a close relationship with SPD and the MSU Police. Even to the point where people who come from outside agencies will comment on it,” Watson added.

This close relationship with the agencies in the county helped the operation go well.

“We worked together, and we couldn’t have done this without the sheriff’s office,” Lovelady said. “It was us working together as a team to do the best for our community we could.”

Lovelady believes that working as one agency is not as effective as working together.

“Just like we need the community to do our job, we need the other law enforcement agencies that are working in the area to do our job efficiently,” Lovelady said.

“I thought it went well,” Watson said. “We’ve always had a good relationship with SPD, and we’ve always been able to work together on anything.”

“Operations like this give us the opportunity to strengthen the relationship more and work on joint areas of concern within the city and the county,” Watson added.

OPERATION REFLECTIONS

Both the city and the county agencies are satisfied with the operation as a whole.

“I think the whole operation went well overall. We were able to serve a lot of indictments and serve warrants that we had,” Watson said.

“The sheriff’s office did make some good felony arrests,” Lovelady noted.

Lovelady was specifically pleased that illegal weapons and narcotics were taken off the street.

“I believe it was successful. Some felony arrests were made. Some weapons and narcotics were taken off the streets, and that is always a positive thing for our community,” Lovelady said.

“It also speaks a lot for your local law enforcement that all these operations were conducted without a major incident,” Lovelady added.

Not only do operations like this lower criminal activity, they also give law enforcement a chance to train younger officers, learn about the criminal elements within the county and show the public they care.

“As a training tool, I think it was an important operation,” Watson said. “We had a lot of our younger officers involved, and I think it gave us an opportunity for some of our younger officers to see how an operation like this takes place.”

Lovelady also saw the operation as a training tool.

He said when the officers geared up to go out every night, the veteran officers used the operation as an opportunity to pass on knowledge from their past experiences to the younger officers.

“It also let citizens who are victims of some of this criminal activity know your local law enforcement is on your side, and we are doing what we can to make our community safer,” Lovelady said. “Because that’s really what it’s about.”

“That’s what we care about. We care about our community. We take pride in our community,” Lovelady added.

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