MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - Two weeks after its launch, the anti-crime initiative Operation IMPACT is already being called a success, but the city's multi-million dollar budget deficit could mean the program faces the chopping block.
It combines multiple divisions of the police department to get illegal guns and drugs off the streets. But IMPACT also comes with a price, and Mayor Sam Jones isn't sure how much longer the city can foot the bill.
When it comes to cracking down on crime, some people take matters into their own hands by forming community action groups.
One such group was formed on Racine Avenue following the shooting death of Wendy Fisher.
"Somebody called me last night and asked if it was legal to have a person from the group patrol the neighborhood," said City Council Member John Williams.
Police do not condone citizens chasing down the bad guys. Instead Operation IMPACT was formed to take illegal guns and drugs off the street.
So far, police said has proven to be successful.
Chief Micheal T. Williams said hundreds of people have been arrested and more than 100 of those have been for felonies.
"We have made 104 felony arrests, 387 misdemeanors, and 28 weapons arrests and that is just in the first two weeks," Williams said.
Maintaining the program isn't cheap. Chief Williams didn't have an exact amount spent in overtime to run the operation but says it is a lot.
Jones relayed the cost concern to city council members.
"This is a special tactical unit that operates long hours, sometimes well into the night and morning hours. So we're expending substantial overtime. We think it is well worth it because they are having an impact on the community," he said.
Jones said money issues could put an early end end to Operation IMPACT and that's something he'll keep in mind while hammering out a budget for next year.
"We've made a tremendous impact, so we'd like to include it in next year's budget so we can clean the criminal element off our streets," said Jones.
However, coming up with the money to keep the operation running could prove a tough task, considering the city is facing a multi-million dollar budget shortfall.
In the meantime, community action groups will continue to keep watch.
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