SAPD cruiser

A St. Albans Police Department cruiser sits idle in St. Albans City.

ST. ALBANS – In the year and a half since the creation of the St. Albans Police Department (SAPD)’s Street Crimes Unit (SCU), the SCU seized almost 5 pounds of cocaine, 4,440 bags of heroin and close to $20,000 in cash, according to an SAPD press release shared Thursday.

Per that statement, SAPD credited the SCU with 800 investigations and 179 arrests, with charges ranging widely from unlawful mischief and driving under the influence to multiple criminal drug charges.

They’ve made 227 vehicle stops, issued 141 tickets and another 241 warnings, and followed through on 48 different search and arrest warrants.

Six SCU cases were adopted and charged federally, including at least one instance in which members of the Latin Kings from Boston brought drugs to Franklin County to exchange for firearms.

In total, cases involving the SCU resulted in a seizure of 4.9 pounds of crack and cocaine, 4 grams of meth, 4,440 bags of heroin and “dozens of assorted illegal prescription pills.” With the SCU’s support, SAPD’s also seized $19,804 in cash and a pair of handguns.

SAPD’s Lt. Ben Couture described the SCU as a proactive unit within the SAPD that can focus resources on specific cases and saturate specific areas.

When a tip arrives about a certain dealer or an area where drug transactions are known to occur, the SCU specifically targets those areas for investigation or enforcement, leveraging everything from saturation patrols to even the occasional knock on a known drug dealer’s door.

“Here in the police department, we think this has been a very successful to have a group of officers that are dedicated to proactive enforcement being able to follow-up on tips, whether it be from the community or even businesses,” Couture said. “It’s nice to free up some resources so things can be investigated.”

The St. Albans SCU’s successes haven’t gone unnoticed either, with other agencies looking toward SAPD’s take on the SCU as inspiration for their own agencies. At least one department, the Barre City Police Department, went as far as to create their own SCU modeled after St. Albans’s.

“I would encourage any community to take a look at what St. Albans started,” Barre police chief Tim Bombadier previously told the Messenger.

Per Couture, the SCU activities are focused primarily on St. Albans City and St. Albans Town, though cases within those communities have brought the SCU north toward Swanton and Highgate in the past.

They’ve also assisted other law enforcement agencies as well, from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to the Vermont State Police and local agencies like the Swanton Village Police Department and the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office.

The unit was originally formed in early 2018, pitched to St. Albans City and St. Albans Town as a means of directly targeting drug-related crime. When possible, the unit helps refer some of the people it targets into substance abuse treatment, a relationship SAPD Chief Gary Taylor previously compared to “tough love.”

“I can guarantee you we will aggressively go after these people and either get them into treatment or move them out of the community,” he told the Messenger last December.