QUINCY, Ill. (WGEM) -- The Quincy Police Department says you would be surprised to know what goes on in the city at night.
From cocaine busts to stolen firearms, the Street Crimes Unit sees it all.
WGEM News took a ride along recently with the Quincy Street Crimes Unit to show you how they are trained to fight the deadliest crimes and make the streets a safer place.
Quincy Police officers Steve Bangert and Nick Hiland are part of the Street Crimes Unit. These officers are specially trained to see things most people, or even most police officers, wouldn't notice.
While on their drive, a gut feeling prompted them to run the plates of a car ahead of them.
"You run the plate, it comes back on an Oldsmobile, obviously that's a Cadillac. That's the number one problem right off the bat."
It turns out, the driver has a warrant out for his arrest for failing to show up in court on traffic charges.
"The biggest concerns that you have are weapons first, anything that's going to kill you first and then drugs or stolen property."
The man didn't put up a fight, he is no longer a threat. But, officers say not every arrest is that simple.
"It's just crazy. you could stop somebody for not having a plate right and they could have a gun. I mean, they could have anything. There's been officers that have stopped people for simple stuff like that and people have had warrants for murder."
Everything was quiet for the next half-hour. Then, a car ahead of us swerved into the other lane and hit the sidewalk.
We swing around the corner, chasing the car.
Bangert and Hiland think the driver is trying to run, but the car stops. The driver is not drunk and the officers decide to let him go with a warning.
Bangert and Hiland say the Street Crimes Unit has bigger fish to catch. So, they head to a high-traffic drug area to see what they can find.
"You will ride around all over the place and just get a little whiff of things. You'd be surprised how far you can smell burnt cannabis or meth chemicals. That's the big one."
Even though the Street Crimes Unit spends most of its time in the northwest part of town, officers say the crime they're fighting has a trickle-down impact on the entire city.
"You can get pretty much anywhere in Quincy within 5-10 minutes. So the same people that are in town doing crime run into each other while you and your family are shopping."
Officer Nick Hiland has been on the police force for 6 years and been working in street crimes for the past three. He's been involved in more drug busts than he can count, but says the most rewarding investigation he was a part of was two years ago, when burglars broke into dozens of homes on the southeast side of Quincy.
"For me its concerning because a simple burglarly can turn into something much more serious, if say, a victim comes downstairs and someone sees them and tries to fight them," Hiland said. "They could have a knife, they could have a gun, I mean you could easily have a homicide just like that from something that was just going to be a burglary."
Hiland says unlike drug busts, where you can catch one dealer but there will always be another, he says he felt a lasting, rewarding impact from this investigation because the victims said they were once again able to sleep at night.
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