How Las Vegas Police “Saturation Teams” Attack Crime


The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department’s saturation teams, or sat teams for short, believe in a proactive approach to policing, reports the Las Vegas Review-Journal: “Don’t handle calls for service. Leave that to the regular patrol cops. Talk to as many citizens as possible to find out who the bad guys are. Get people off the street who don’t belong, and maybe prevent a robbery or burglary, or worse, from happening.” The teams use whatever laws are at their disposal: jaywalking, riding a bicycle without reflectors, outstanding warrants. They work together, swarming “hot spots.”

The newspaper describes how one “sat” team plans its work. During the first week of one anticrime attack, the criminals were like “deer caught in the headlights,” said one officer. The second week the criminals had caught on, and officers were constantly running suspects down on foot. Crime has dropped significantly in one area tackled by a saturation team. A commander stressed to his officers the importance of shaking the hands of residents and explaining to them what the team was doing in the area. That helped build bonds with those in the community. “It’s old-school policing with professionalism,” he said. The team draws a few officers from each area command. The strategy has two advantages: it doesn’t upset area command captains by sapping one area over another, and it draws officers from all over the valley. If one officer doesn’t know the streets in an area, chances are someone else does.


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