AUSTIN (KXAN) - Dozens of suspected criminals are now at the hands of police. The Austin Police Department issued warrants to 50 people connected to felony narcotics cases. It's all part of what the department is calling "Operation Safe Assistance."
Of the 50 people, police arrested 23 as of Monday afternoon.
APD says specific locations downtown are notorious for drug crime and the department has to send officers from other areas of Austin to patrol downtown. For nearly four weeks in May, the department diverted resources to fighting downtown drug crime.
The department announced results from "Operation Safe Assistance" on Monday. They've issued 70 warrants for 50 people. Police say those 50 people they're after are responsible for thousands of interactions with police.
"As a tax payer, I think it's good to get those people off the street and in jail," said Mitchell McGovern, who lives downtown and is the president of the neighborhood association, "If they are continuing to be a chronic problem for downtown Austin and wasting our precious APD resources, they're just aren't enough police officers downtown."
Police say HALO cameras around downtown are extremely helpful in tracking crimes, and they captured nearly every one of the 70 drug-related crimes on video.
They focused their efforts in specific areas, like 4th Street and Sabine, and also near ARCH on East 7th Street. Police say dealers often target people seeking help from downtown social services providers, knowing they're vulnerable.
"Clearly these are bad people that need to be off the street," said Bill Brice, with Downtown Austin Alliance. "They've caused a lot of problems, had many interactions with the police department. We certainly don't need them in our downtown or on any streets in our city."
Downtown Austin saw a rise in violent crime in 2012. APD says so far this year, it's down. They're pointing to initiatives like "Operation Safe Assistance" as one of the reasons.
The City of Austin is hoping more HALO cameras help police catch criminals. In May, council approved spending $750,000 for 10 new cameras .
The department already manages 27 cameras downtown and four near Rundberg Lane and Interstate 35. Austin Police say they'll install the cameras to help fill in blind spots.
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