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VIPER team to begin working

Bainbridge leaders are hoping a new four-man community policing team will help reduce crime in the city.

Four Public Safety officers will comprise the VIPER (Variable Intensive Patrol Enforcement and Response) team, which the Bainbridge City Council heard about at their Tuesday meeting.

BPS Chief Investigator Frank Green said the team, which is being funded by a federal government grant, is being modeled after a VIPER team created by the Covington, Ga., police department. Covington launched their VIPER program to target increasing crime in their small city in 1998, and have seen great results, Green said.

Some of the specific problems the VIPER team will target include illegal drug dealing, loitering and large crowds, noise and traffic problems, violent crimes and property crimes.

“Public Safety is constantly responding to those types of crimes,” Green said. “Instead of being reactive, we want to be proactive.”

The plan is for the VIPER team and BPS’ crime investigators to move into the same building at 301 Broughton Street, which the city is leasing. The four officers on the VIPER team will have more tactical-style uniforms and drive specially-painted police cars. They will focus only on policing certain areas, instead of patrolling city-wide or responding to fires, as other BPS officers do.

The team will be led by Sgt. James Dollar, a veteran investigator who knows the problems facing the city and the identities of the people who tend to cause them, Green explained. Other members of the team are officers Demetric Stubbs, who has been with BPS since 2006; Gary Hines, who joined BPS in 2007; and Robert “Rusty” Day, who joined BPS in 2008.

“When we receive complaints about problems in a neighborhood, those will get funneled down to Sgt. Dollar and we will come up with a gameplan to address the problem,” Green said. “We want to talk with people in the neighborhood and try to address the problems they’re dealing with.”

Green, commander of the VIPER team as well as chief investigator, is a law enforcement veteran who was the 2003 Peace Officer of the Year.

Dollar was the City of Bainbridge’s Employee of the Year in 2006, in part due to the many hours he spent investigating a difficult child pornography case.

Stubbs is a Bainbridge High School alumnus and holds a 2-year degree from South Georgia Technical College in Americus, Ga.