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Newly formed Clayton County violent crime task force produces major results during its first month, chief says

The C.A.G.E. unit made 126 arrests, including 54 for felonies and 72 for misdemeanors, during its first month of operation.

CLAYTON COUNTY, Ga. — The Clayton County Police Chief is offering proof Thursday that a new task force responsible for cracking down violent crime in the county is working.

11Alive's Dawn White is the first Atlanta reporter to speak to the chief about this new unit they call "C.A.G.E."

The intersection of Old Dixie and Johnson Roads in Forest Park is one of the hot spots the Criminal Apprehension and Gang Enforcement unit has been targeting. 

Melvin Bell noticed something disturbing just blocks from that intersection in 2021. 

“It was really an out-of-body experience," Melvin Bell said. “I have a mobile entertainment company called 'Answer the Bell.' I was doing an event for my daughter’s birthday party that day. A guy actually followed me back home.”

Bell said the man fired a gun at him and almost hit him in the chest. 

“When he hit me in my arm, when he shot several more times, he hit the truck here. 'You see the bullet hole there?' This is full-on steel metal. It put a dent in it, and it also hit here in my light," Bell said as he showed damage to his truck.

The rise in recent violence led Clayton County Police Chief Kevin Roberts to realize instead of hiring more officers, the county could reduce crime by joining forces with five municipal police departments in the county. 

Jonesboro, Lake City, Forest Park, Morrow and Riverdale Police Departments provide a total of about a dozen officers to the unit that county police oversee.

“Crime knows no boundaries or jurisdiction. With us having challenges with resources in the way of manpower, it was very simple to me that if we came together to fight our violent crime issues, we’d have to do that by increasing our numbers," Chief Kevin Roberts said.

The C.A.G.E unit works together to identify crime hot spots throughout the county. Police said the hot spots can change weekly, and some of the recent ones include the Garden Walk Boulevard, Norman Drive, Flint River, Tara Boulevard at Battle Creek, and Old Dixie and Johnson Roads.

“We came together, and we identified them through stats, statistical information where we had the number of calls or the type of call related to gun violence," Roberts said.

The Clayton County Police Department provided data Thursday showing the unit's first month, it made 126 arrests, including 54 for felonies and 72 for misdemeanors. Officers also handed out 200 citations.

The unit also seized 32 guns and made numerous drug arrests. Those arrests include:

  • Marijuana: 1,242.67 grams
  • Heroin: 1gram
  • Crack: 21.76 grams 
  • Powder cocaine: 2.45 grams 
  • RX Pills: 45
  • THC oil: 1 gram
  • THC wax: 1 gram
  • MDMA: 9 pills + 2 grams 
  • Black tar heroin: 2 grams 

Officers recovered a car full of stolen tools during a traffic stop and found a man wanted on RICO charges in a Morrow motel, where they discovered drugs and a Nazi flag in the room. 

“The collaboration of being able to use other agents, agencies, officers in a group like this... it's a force multiplier for us. I think that it is a model for other counties," Lake City Police Chief Anthony Whitmire said. 

Bell's near-death experience still haunts him as he bears the scars of what happened, but he's relieved to see the new effort to address crime where he lives.

“It’s always a good thing when police come out here and help," Bell said.

Chief Roberts hopes to expand the C.A.G.E unit with more officers in the future.

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