Training for Trouble 

The MPD's new Criminal Apprehension Team gets down to business.

About a dozen cops, dressed head-to-toe in black SWAT-style uniforms, pile out of a dingy van parked in front of a rickety house. An officer with a body shield leads the way to the front door and pounds on it, yelling, "Police! Search warrant!"

After he does this three times, he kicks in the door, and he and the officers flood into the house.

Once inside, chaos ensues. In the front room, which is filled with tattered couches and dusty furnishings, bad guys are thrown to the floor, hand-cuffed, and stripped of their weapons. Other officers search the back rooms for additional suspects.

About 10 minutes later, one officer yells, "Terminate!"

The team stops what they're doing and gathers in the front room as a senior officer reviews what they did right -- such as their exit from the van and entrance into the house -- and what they did wrong. One "bad guy" in the front room, actually a role-playing officer, was thrown to the floor but never cuffed. No one even bothered to seize his weapon.

"I had my hands up and I got shot three times," says another "bad guy."

Had this been a real scenario, the Memphis Police Department would have had major problems. But fortunately for these officers, this was a training exercise at the MPD's Frayser police academy. The officers are members of the MPD's new Criminal Apprehension Team (CAT). The unit, formed last week, is responsible for carrying out Operation Blue Crush, a program that uses data to target criminal hotspots.

Today's drill is part of a two-week training session. Since CAT officers are part of the larger Organized Crime Unit (OCU), they have to learn a bit of everything. OCU deals with drugs, gangs, and other organized vice, such as illegal gambling machines.

Officers also have been trained in driving tactics, case law, and surveillance in recent weeks, according to CAT officer Milton Gonzalez.

"Our focus is to ensure our safety and that of the people inside," said Gonzalez. "We have to get the person down as fast as we can and make it as real as we can."

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