By: Sharon Aron Baron
Over the past year, Broward County has had a significant reduction in crime. This reduction can be attributed to several factors. Most significant among them may be the creation of proactive intelligence-led policing programs, such as the Violence Intervention Proactive Enforcement Response – or VIPER Unit with several members shown here at the City of Tamarac’s Night Out Against Crime.
Sheriff Scott Israel formed VIPER in February of 2013 by merging the Gun Squad and Street Crimes units. Since that time, VIPER has become the centerpiece of the Broward Sheriff’s Office strategy to crack down on the most violent criminals.Research shows that most violent crimes are committed by a small group of criminals. VIPER’s mission is clear; to “target, track, investigate, and apprehend Broward County’s most violent criminals.”
In 2014, VIPER made 531 arrests (of which 396 were felony arrests) and seized 89 firearms. To accomplish its goal effectively the squad utilizes intelligence-led policing and numerous investigative techniques. VIPER has also become a vital regional asset, assisting other units and agencies with tracking down murder suspects, bank robbers, escaped criminals and numerous others.