Synonymous with effective, focused operations that target immediate and acute community safety system issues (and funded by Eugene’s Community Safety Initiative), Eugene Police’s Street Crimes Unit provided service daily to make the city a safer place. In 2021, this team saved lives and navigated everything from quality of life crimes to tracking down homicide suspects. Capturing felony suspects, getting fentanyl and guns off the streets, and finding and returning stolen vehicles to their owners are just a few highlights of the team’s work:
The SCU has been focusing on prolific offenders, who are identified through intelligence-based policing, public tips and other sources. They have been proactively responding across the city to quality of life issues as they arise, using all available resources and partners such as community groups, neighborhood associations and city services. SCU has been working toward mission-critical enhancements that need to be addressed through a longer-term and broader community safety initiative. The unit currently consists of a lieutenant, a sergeant and eight officers. Their work lead to 348 charges during the year ranging from 20 crime categories including warrants (194), drug law (133), and weapons (31).
In 2021, The unit took 58 firearms off the streets, and recovered approximately 30 vehicles, returning them to their owners. These recovered vehicles have led to additional investigations such as Identity Thefts, Forgery and Fraudulent Use of Credit Cards.
SCU assisted in capture of a double homicide suspect after a vehicle pursuit and tactical vehicle intervention. Additionally, the unit aided in the capture of a couple of Assault in the First Degree and murder suspects for both Eugene Police and Springfield Police.
Drug use and drug-related crimes have drastically increased in the Eugene community and one scary result has been an increase in overdose deaths. While not all those deaths are attributed to fentanyl, EPD’s Crime Analysis Unit has pulled data that shows calls for service related to overdoses in general has increased 19 percent year to date compared to 2020. To combat this, SCU worked with EPD Special Investigations Unit to disrupt the supply of fentanyl pills coming into Eugene. They conducted a joint, focused operation and were successful. A detective specializing in this area reported fewer fentanyl overdose deaths after the project was done.
As little as three milligrams of fentanyl can be a fatal dose for an adult male. Deployment of SCU’s Drug Detection K9 Jack led to the seizure of 2.84 pounds of suspected fentanyl seized as well as to 6.52 pounds of Heroin. K9 Jack and his handler Officer Joe Kidd also took 48 firearms off the streets, potentially saving lives.
SCU worked cases all over the Eugene/Springfield area and from Junction City to Cottage Grove. In total they seized more than 2,400 pills (M30s, suspected fentanyl) and as of June 23, 2021, SCU worked with DEA and seized an additional 4,000 pills (M30s, suspected fentanyl). Officers also seized methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine, and firearms during this operational period. They arrested seven individuals and developed probable cause to arrest eight additional. They served search warrants on two motel rooms, two residences, one backpack and a couple of cellular phones.
SCU partnered with Property Crimes on several cases, including the Hutch's bicycle theft, a series of commercial burglaries. Street Crimes worked to make City-sanctioned homeless camps safer for all during a six-week program. They served four search warrants on tents to recover property and remove narcotics from the area. In addition, SCU worked with Property Crimes on the theft and recovery of property from an FBI agent.
Throughout the year SCU prided itself on the ability to work with various local, state and federal agencies to capture criminals wreaking havoc in our community. One example is SCU’s joint investigation with the ATF that started in 2020 and concluded in January 2021. This investigation was primarily narcotics, but as time went on, SCU was able to incorporate firearms. Their primary suspect coordinated a deal for 17 firearms in exchange for a few pounds of methamphetamine. This final deal took place in Los Angeles, California, and the suspects were members of a well-known criminal street gang in LA.
In October 2020 SCU learned of a large narcotics network operating in Eugene. This case was passed on to the DEA. In the summer of 2021, SCU assisted throughout the DEA’s investigation and arrested the primary suspect along with four of his primary associates. They served several federal search warrants and seized 384 pounds of methamphetamine, 14 firearms (some stolen) and more than $76,000.