The Owensboro Police Department reinstated its flex team in June in order to combat reports of violence, including firearm discharges, and crime primarily on the city's west side.

In that time, the flex team has issued 84 charges on drug offenses and have increased OPD's visibility in west side neighborhoods, OPD's public information officer said Tuesday. Department officials intend for the flex team to continue working.

"At this point, there are no plans to deactivate the flex team any time in the near future," Officer Andrew Boggess said.

The flex team was first created last September in response to an increase in firearm discharges on the west side. The team was disbanded two months later after making numerous drug and weapons-related arrests, but a new team was formed last month. This year, there have been three incidents that resulted in five shooting deaths on the west side.

In addition to the drug charges, flex team members have served 97 warrants and issued three weapons charges. Many of the warrants "have been indictments and serious felony warrants," Boggess said.

The flex team augments OPD's regular patrol on the west side. Since being reactivated in June, the team has done 170 hours of patrolling on the west side, including 50 hours of foot patrol, Boggess said.

"A lot of (the team's work) is not enforcement, it's being visible and building that trust in the community," Boggess said. The hope is residents in west side neighborhoods will develop relationships with officers on patrol "so they can turn to an officer they trust, and maybe give some critical information" after an incident, he said.

The flex team is not specifically tied to west end neighborhoods and could be moved if the need arises, Boggess said. "We are constantly looking at where crime is occurring. If we have a rash of crime in a certain area, that is something the flex team will turn to address.

"The very nature of the team is they'll be able to change" their focus to other areas, Boggess said.

The team is focused on drug crimes and gun violence specifically.

"We're not pulling people over and making tons of traffic stops and writing frivolous traffic tickets," Boggess said.

If the team sees a traffic infraction they will make a stop, but might just give a warning rather an issue a citation, he said.

Department officials are pleased with the team's work and feel it has made a difference, Boggess said.

"Since they've started, we have seen a reduction in violent crime," Boggess said.

While four weeks is a short period of time to measure results, "we've been pleased with the results," he said.

James Mayse, 270-691-7303, jmayse@messenger-inquirer.com, Twitter: @JamesMayse

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