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Taking a closer look at the EPD's Problem Oriented Policing Unit
EUREKA- So far this year, 63 arrests have been made just by investigators with the Eureka Police Department’s Problem Oriented Policing Unit. In addition, 41 problem houses have been investigated in Eureka in 2014 thanks to POP as well. Also, 60 grams of methamphetamine and more than 260 grams of heroin have been seized because of the unit.
A recent investigation by the POP unit led to the arrest of two men for possession of methamphetamine for sales. They were since released from the Humboldt County Jail due to overcrowding.
"It's just the state we're in now with AB 109 and the overcrowding and yeah it's frustrating, but you just come to work every day and do your job," said Sgt. Michael Guy, the Detective Sergeant and Policing Supervisor for the POP Unit.
A job that consists of identifying problems in a neighborhood or business community, then working to resolve those issues.
An abandoned house on Dean Street in Eureka used to be surrounded by trash all the way around, including some parts where it was up to five feet high. Last week, with the help of the City Code Enforcement Officer, the POP unit evicted the transients who were occupying the home and cleared out the area. Now, there are no more calls for service coming in from neighbors.
"A lot of people pitching in, but POP definitely was the spearhead and the enforcers of the law, so we can't thank them enough, it's outstanding work that they do," said Emerson Samulski, who lives across the street from the abandoned home.
"We can dedicate to one house where patrol is going call to call. We can just focus on that house. We have three full-time detectives, two part time detectives that are working, and we pretty much work everything as a team. And we can do a lot of surveillance and just try to address problems like that that are just blights on the community," Sgt. Guy said.
Sgt. Guy says pop has been an effective deterrent for crime in Eureka.
"When I was on POP as an officer, several years ago, basically all the wanted parolees were living out of town. And they would tell the parole agents they knew that pop was going to get them if they were in Eureka,” said Sgt. Guy.
But that success, Sgt. Guy says, is in large part due to the more than 40 calls the POP Unit receives from the community each month.
"Even though there's three full time, two part time, like i said, we're not here every day all day long so we don't know what's going on when we're not at work," Sgt. Guy said.
However, POP officials say there are challenges the unit faces.
"It would be great if we could get staffing, if could get another detective or two out there because like I've said before, we have way more work than we can handle right now," said Sgt. Guy.
Anyone with information concerning suspected drug activity, or other nuisances occurring in the Eureka is encouraged to call the POP Unit at (707) 441-4373.
The first POP Team operation was in 2000, and the unit was shut down two years later due to staffing issues. The POP Unit then came back in 2010 when staffing increased.