(KMOV) -- It began as an investigation into how St. Louis County Police Officers target the places they hit for hot-spot policing but the behind-the-scenes ride along turned chaotic for News 4’s Investigative Reporter Craig Cheatham.
Cheatham was spending the afternoon with officers with the Neighborhood Enforcement Team, also known as NET when a nearby officer spotted an armed suspect and shots were fired.
Craig Cheatham and his photographer were riding along with Sergeant Jason Law to see how NET operates but a few moments after they parked, a call came out for a suspect with a weapon.
A day with the Neighborhood Enforcement Team starts with intelligence officer Casey Lambert who uses software to find the data that helps her track certain crimes and identify possible hot spots.
“I pull up what time they’re occurring and the location. That’s how I map them out. If I have two or more in one area that’s when I put together the map,” Officer Lambert said.
Once a problem area is spotted, Officer Lambert looks deep into her files for information about possible suspects who have been involved in similar activity in the same location.
“So this is how we gather the Intel that we need for our hot-spot policing,” Officer Lambert added.
She then creates a detailed report to consider for a possible plan of attack. That information is brought to a meeting with Captain Troy Doyle. The focus is on following burglaries that may be connected with illegal drug activity. Police say drug dealers and users are often involved in other crimes.
Captain Doyle said. “If he’s out there, I’d like to lock him up.”
After the meeting, Sergeant Law brings the plan to the NET officers. The team heads to the Glasgow area but just ten minutes after the officers and the News 4 crew leave, a call comes in and they head toward an officer in need of aid.
Police say two officers in a marked NET police car tried to make a traffic stop, but the suspect's vehicle drove away. A passenger got out, raised a gun, and after yelling "drop the gun," one of the uniformed officers with NET fired a shot at the suspect, but didn't hit him.
The suspect dropped the weapon and ran. Officers swarmed the area, eventually finding the suspect hiding in a truck.
It was an intense end to a rare behind-the-scenes story about how police take computer data to the streets. But it was also a reminder of the danger that is always a split second away from the men and women enforcing the law.