Chico, CA -- "Gabriel, we talked to you recently?" Sgt. Terrance Tupper asks, after he approaches a car parked behind a commercial building right next to Highway 99.
"Yea, you talked to me last month or so," says Gabriel Hernandez. Hernandez, 41, has been arrested several times on drug offenses. On this Friday evening, he's found with a small amount of meth, and is placed under arrrest.
Sgt. Tupper leads the Chico Street Crimes Unit on patrol. He describes Hernandez, and many of the others his unit has arrested over the summer, as 'good people who made bad decisions.'
The mission of the unit, formed in late May, was to improve quality of life for the residents of Chico, by reducing crimes like car and bicycle thefts, property crimes, and drug sales.
Tupper says his team arrested 281 people over the summer. Many of those arrests were made in Bidwell Park, where drug use and illegal camping have exploded in recent years.
The team has been disbanded for the time being, since Chico State students are returning for the Fall semester. Those officers will resume patrols in the north and south campus areas. Tupper says, once the police department reaches full staffing, the unit will most like be reinstated.