BADGE Unit success in Forest Park hoping to be duplicated in Mas - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

BADGE Unit success in Forest Park hoping to be duplicated in Mason Square

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SPRINGFIELD, MA (WSHM) -

A specialized unit of the Springfield Police Department is cutting crime so effectively in one neighborhood, it's being expanded to another part of the city.

"We just recently assisted narcotics with a raid and we seized 1,500 bags of heroin," said Sgt. Julio Toledo.

Toledo and the BADGE unit of Forest Park continue to effectively cut crime by breaking down barriers between officers and residents.

"The Forest Park area is down nine percent in terms of the crime rates, which is great news for us. It's not where we'd like to be but we're moving in the right direction," said Toledo.

Compare that nine percent cut in crime to a one percent cut citywide since last year.

Toledo and his BADGE unit have made more than 240 arrests this year that have lead to positive numbers.

Now the Springfield Police Department wants to replicate that success across other troubled-neighborhoods.

"The Mason Square BADGE unit developed after they found that the BADGE unit in Forest Park has been successful, so they decided to replicate the same program in the Mason Square area," Toledo said.

Both BADGE units work out of the same office and assist each other on cases.

"I'm confident that they'll have the same success we've had here in Mason Square," Toledo said.

Much of their police work relies on building a strong foundation with business leaders but also gaining the trust of their most important ally - the people that live there.

Tools like "text a tip" are proving effective.

"They're completely anonymous so people can confidently and safely text message the police department with information and it's completely anonymous, no one knows where it comes from," Toledo said.

That information and spending time with the people they serve is gradually making the area safer, and they hope that success will spread.

"We get a lot of positive feedback from the citizens of the community so I'm confident that the program is working," Toledo said.

The BADGE unit in Mason Square has only been in operation for two months, and the three officers in that unit have been making connections with local business owners and city leaders.

There are already talks of creating more of these units in other neighborhoods.

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