An elite crime fighting unit within the D.C. Police Department is being dissolved in an effort to put more officers in the seven district stations.
Twenty seven officers, now working with the "Narcotics Strike Force" are being re-deployed in part, to help reduce the high number of robberies in the city.
The strike force, which is based out of the Narcotics and Special Investigation Division in northeast, is made up of officers who work undercover investigating the drug trade.
In a statement to FOX 5 D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier explained it this way.
"The strike force is a street level narcotics unit that is being decentralized to the seven narcotics units already in the districts. ...they will be working narcotics and robberies."
It's no secret street robberies are an ever present danger in the district--some of them violent.
Just this week an 18 year old girl on her way to school was shot in the leg, her book bag taken.
Every day the police department's Twitter feed reports robbery after robbery.
Just a few weeks ago the chief announced she was deploying a specialized robbery suppression team that would work undercover in some of the districts hot spots.
Now she wants more. That plan is unpopular with the police union.
"Because the department hasn't told anybody or put anything in writing as usual," said Union President Kristopher Baumann, "We don't know exactly where (the officers) are going but what (the chief has done) at the end of the day, if you are a resident of the District of Columbia you are less safe now because we are so desperate for manpower we are having to strip this department down to the bare bones."
Baumann says the Narcotics Strike Force brought an expertise to undercover operations that will be difficult to match.
"They would do "buy bust" operations when there were narcotics problems in areas. They would also do some of the stings and fences that took stolen property off the street, what they were essentially was a unit we could use anywhere in the city when there were serious problems, now they are going to be gone."
Although the police department reports robberies on Twitter there is no way of knowing how bad the problem is.
The computer software that drives the on-line crime mapping tool has been down for weeks.
In recent months D.C. Police have been very aggressive in getting robbery information out to the public.
Issuing press releases on robbery arrests and posting videos of robbery suspects in hopes of closing additional cases.
Although we had a number of questions about the apparent permanent decision to dissolve the strike force, Chief Lanier said she was too busy to answer them. She also declined to make any other official available.
WTTG FOX 5 & myfoxdc
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