GPD Chief: more than 560 arrested during CAGE Unit 14-month Operation Revolving Door


The Griffin Police Department Criminal Apprehension and Gang Enforcement (CAGE) Unit, with support from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, have engaged in Operation Revolving Door, a 14-month concentrated effort targeting violent offenders, gang members and drug dealers in Griffin.

GPD officials say the CAGE Unit alone has arrested members of every gang present in Spalding County, as well as operatives of some Mexican cartels.

The GPD Criminal Investigation Division has partnered with the CAGE Unit to address every gang related shooting, aggravated assault and homicide to contend with ongoing issues of violence.

Authorities say those efforts have resulted in “marked success.”

During Operation Revolving Door, the CAGE Unit made more than 560 arrests and initiated more than 220 gang charges.

Seizures include more than $45,000 cash that was allegedly related to ongoing criminal enterprises, 16 vehicles allegedly used to facilitate drug and gang activities and removed 83 illegal guns from the streets.

Also seized during Operation Revolving Door was more than 45 pounds of marijuana, 17 pounds of methamphetamine and “significant quantities” of cocaine, pills and heroin.

The GPD says the CAGE Unit’s asset forfeiture activities exceeded those of the remainder of the Griffin Judicial Circuit combined.

GPD officials say the CAGE Unit, with assistance from the DEA, ATF and its own Criminal Investigation Division, average 18 gang charges and 46 arrests per month.

This GPD press release included the following opinions, later attributed to Chief Mike Yates. They are included here, unedited.

Given the volume of arrests and seizures, one would think that
the crime rate would have dropped drastically, but unfortunately, it has
not. While Part I Crime did decrease 3.4% in 2021 in the City of Griffin,
the overall crime rate has been disappointing. Crime rose significantly
in two categories in Griffin; Auto Theft and Aggravated Assault, both
with a significant nexus to gang activity (thefts of autos related to
organized entering auto crimes resulting in the theft of the vehicle and
“drive-by” style shootings where houses and vehicles are shot without
regard to people being present). With the efforts of the department
focused on these crimes and the successful arrests of those
responsible, why has crime not decreased substantially? Two primary
reasons… bond reform efforts and COVID Protocols in the jails. These
two areas were noted as major problem areas to be addressed by the
Community-Wide Strategic Plan adopted by both Spalding County and
the City of Griffin last year. The fact is, much to the frustration of law
enforcement, that our suspects and arrestees essentially walk in one
door at the jail/s and out the other. Many of the defendants arrested
during Operation Revolving Door were out on bond, sometimes out on
an OR Bond (Cashless bond based on their own recognizance – a
freebie) when they committed their next crime. Some were out on
bond for shooting at or hitting another person when they were
arrested for the same thing again. A perfect example of this can be seen
concerning the Sheriff’s successful “Operation Zero Tolerance” where,
among the 36 suspects he arrested, 18 of those have been arrested or
had warrants issued on them by the Griffin Police Department within
the previous 14 months and were out, engaging in criminal activity
again while at large. This estimation does not include the reverse (Cases
where the Sheriff’s Department Arrested or Charged individuals that
the G.P.D. later Arrested), which I am certain at least equals the efforts
of G.P.D.

Obviously, local law enforcement has invested great effort, time,
and resources attacking our crime problem, but we have got to do
better on the other dimensions of our justice system. With the
“revolving door” of the jail/s, many criminals simply do not see any
significant consequences for their actions. Couple this fact with the fact
that our courts were essentially shut down for more than a year, which
further exasperates the problem (when a criminal trial is two years out
– a criminal who doesn’t think two weeks ahead feels no deterrent to
their crimes, especially when they are out on bond). Add to this the
complications that our jail (and others) have had to deal with regarding
COVID, and we have a perfect storm. In fairness, for the most part, our
jail (Spalding County) has been pretty good about accepting prisoners,
even when we had to work through some tough times during COVID
outbreaks, at a time when other jails in the area (Henry County)
essentially refuse to accept prisoners arrested on THEIR own warrants.
Bonding procedures are another story all together, and I am sure that
the Sheriff shares our frustrations (as relayed by his staff during the
Community-Wide Strategic Planning Meetings last year). Some progress
has been made, on the serious violent offenders, as the District
Attorney’s Office has, in fact, acted to revoke the bonds of defendants
who have committed crimes while they were out on bond, but this is a
slow process, and we (law enforcement) often do not know the bond
status of a defendant when we arrest them thus we cannot notify the
DA to act.

By working together in a smarter, more deliberate way, we can
have a greater impact on crime in Griffin and Spalding County, but we
have got to do better. The Community-Wide Strategic Plan has been
adopted by our governing bodies, and we need to put it fully into play.
The Griffin Police Department will do its part, and I am in hopes we can
develop an efficient way to deny the bond of those who are already out
on bond if arrested again. There has to be real consequences for a
criminal’s actions for the deterrent value of law enforcement to have
any effect.

Publisher’s note – The press release issued by Officer Laurie Littlejohn, a Griffin Police Department Public Information Officer, included additional opinion-based content. The GRIP sought clarification from Littlejohn, GPD Chief Mike Yates and Lt. Daniel Jett, also a public information officer, asking to whom those opinions should be attributed, but no response was provided. Should the Griffin Police Department provide a name for the opinion-based content, it will be added to this press release.
Separately, The GRIP also requested an interview with Chief Yates, but he did not respond.
Publisher’s update – Chief Mike Yates responded Saturday, Jan. 29, stating the opinions in the Jan. 28 email are attributable to him. Those statements are now included in the published press release. Yates has still not responded to The GRIP’s request for an interview.

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