The Criminal Interdiction Team was originally formed in March of 2005 as the Highway Enforcement Awareness Team (H.E.A.T.). Funding for this Unit was originally provided by the Governor’s Highway Safety Program. The Unit originally consisted of one supervisor, five deputies and three canines. The Unit is under the direct supervision of the Chief Deputy.
H.E.A.T. was formed to address the concerns of safety on our roadways in Sampson County. These concerns are more than just traffic-related issues but also include criminal issues as well. As studies have shown, statistically 85-90% of crime involves a motor vehicle. Proactive traffic enforcement is the first line of defense against crime. Presence of this unit on our streets will deter numerous crimes while creating public awareness. At the same time, this presence will reduce traffic crashes.
In August of 2008, the Sheriff's Office added two gang investigators and a gang analyst through a grant from the Governor's Crime Commission. The name of the team was changed to the Criminal Interdiction Team to fit their new enforcement and awareness priorities which are:
- Specialized criminal enforcement (drug interdiction and gang activity)
- Highway safety
- Drug and alcohol prevention and education
- Gang awareness and suppression
One of the team's priorities remains public awareness. As we know, our children are our most precious resources. The team still conducts educational seminars to help make children and parents more aware of the dangers associated with motor vehicle safety, drugs, and gangs.
Throughout each year the team participates in several Child Seat Clinics. The team is one of the founding members of the newly formed chapter of Safe Kids Sampson County. The team also participates in state programs such as “Booze It & Loose It”, “Click It or Ticket”, and is active with the local MADD Chapter. The Criminal Interdiction Team conducts sobriety checkpoints several times a year and seatbelt checkpoints several times a month. These checkpoints not only provide the much needed enforcement of traffic safety issues, but also provide valuable information related to crimes committed in and around these checkpoint areas. Checkpoints conducted by the team normally produce persons that are wanted locally, statewide, and by other states.