Philadelphia Police Department's Strategy to Reduce Crime with Elite Highway Patrol Unit

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – More police officers are on the streets in Philadelphia. A strategy introduced earlier this year with mobile squads.

Now the crime-curbing strategy is being advanced by another special unit. Welcome to the roll call of members of the Philadelphia Police Department's Elite Highway Patrol Unit.

“We’re really trying to make a visible difference out there,” said Philadelphia Deputy Commissioner James Kelly.

Starting Friday evening, these officers will support mobile response teams and district staff throughout the city.

Kelly adds that they can also supplement PPD's ATV details.

“It's just another opportunity to double or triple the mobile response units to have a bigger presence out there,” he said. “A really visible presence.”

The mobile task forces began their work at the beginning of the year, sending more officers – many of whom work in administration – onto the streets on Friday and Saturday evenings to combat crime.

Although Philadelphia police believe their approach has been successful so far, there is still room for improvement.

“The community has been tremendously supportive and we are focusing not only on the violence but also on quality of life issues,” Kelly said.

The biggest quality of life issue, says PPD, is off-road vehicles. Kelly estimates that nearly 200 of them have been taken off the road this year.

“We're not going to let up on this ATV thing,” he said. “If anything, we're going to see an even greater use of ATVs.”

The highway police will be clearly visible in the community as they will be on the move on motorcycles.

“They will spend some time in the areas where there is a lot of off-road vehicle activity, and then they will go to certain areas with the highest crime rates to conduct high-visibility patrols,” Kelly said.

He points out that the key to this is reducing crime rates and giving people a sense of security.

“Wherever the highway patrol is deployed, there is a calming effect,” said Kelly.