Crimewatch: APD Operation Safe Assistance results in 80 arrests

Austin police are using technology to take down drug dealers and buyers in the Entertainment District.

Since June, nearly 80 people have been arrested.

In May, officers conducted the first of two large-scale drug operations called safe assistance.

Fifty people were arrested including Latequa Collins.

In an APD surveillance video, officers say Collins is seated by a parking pay station. A man in the white hat works for her. The man next to him with the black hat on is a police officer.

Officers say Collins gives her assistant drugs, who then sells them to the APD officer. There's audio too.

The key evidence has helped Community Prosecutor Jason English land 24 plea offers ranging in sentences from 10 months to eight years.

"It's really evidence that we can put in a courtroom and show jurors and say here it is exactly. It's not us having to tell you what we believe we saw you can actually see it. It lends a lot of credibility to the officers," English said.

In addition to the HALO surveillance cameras, officers are utilizing cameras they can wear on their uniforms. During the most recent operation from July to September, APD issued 33 warrants.

We returned to the corner of 7th St. and Neches as police made the arrests.

According to Commander Jason Dusterhoft, the three dozen charged, make up 1800 involvements with APD. Their previous convictions include roppery, rape and assault. Some are gang members.

"Last year downtown drove the city in violent crime. This year we're going in the opposite way," Dusterhoft said.

Mitchell Gibbs, spokesperson for front steps, located inside the arch, says he's noticing a difference.

"Today we see 10, maybe 12 people on the sidewalk. They are people who do come here for service," Gibbs said.

"We are not going to stop. We are going to continue to do these operations until we see that it's a drug free environment," Dusterhoft said.

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