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February 2002

Miami-Dade County Police Department's Tactical Narcotics Team (TNT)

Miami-Dade County (FL) Police Department

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF) has announced the selection of Miami-Dade County (FL) Police Department's Tactical Narcotics Team (TNT) as its Officers of the Month for February 2002. Team members - Lieutenant William Erfurth, Sergeant Norman Symonette, Sergeant James Bigler, Detective Darlene Thornton, Detective Dennis Dries, Detective Carl Baaske, and Detective Paul Villaverde - are assigned to the Department's Narcotics Bureau.

Tactical Narcotics Team (TNT) members are at the frontline of the department's war on crime. TNT has seven full-time officers and employs another 120 law enforcement officials throughout Miami-Dade County to function as the department's street narcotics unit. Although other officers participated in the operations, this core unit of seven officers works day in and day out in the most explosive neighborhoods of Miami-Dade County (FL) dealing with people found in a most dangerous and unpredictable environment.

TNT results are staggering: the impact beyond the southern Florida area as the drugs and weapons that enter through the southern coast of the country quickly get moved north and west. During 2000 the TNT officers worked three to four dangerous operations a week. The result was an astounding 4,175 arrests and the seizure of 96 firearms, 526 grams of heroin, 2,202 grams of cocaine, and 1,006 pounds of marijuana.

Of those arrested, 54 percent were found to have a criminal history, including 85 for murder, 60 for sexual battery, 546 for robbery, 840 for assault and 54 for kidnapping/abduction. This number of arrests by a single law enforcement unit is unprecedented in both TNT and the Miami-Dade department's history.

Statistics for 2001 show continued TNT success and resulted in 5,255 arrests and the seizure of 101 firearms, 648 grams of heroin, 1,683 grams of crack cocaine, and 62 pounds of marijuana. Due to their efforts, along with federal authorities and other local law enforcement officials, violent crime was down 34 percent from 1996 to 2000.

In its first ten years, TNT has been responsible for a total of 16,609 arrests and seizures of more than 14 kilograms of crack cocaine, 22 kilograms of powder cocaine, 5,764 kilograms of marijuana and 1 kilogram of heroin. Additionally, approximately $874,198 in US currency and 1,155 firearms were seized and 166 crack houses were shut down.

These "Magnificent Seven" are dedicated, and courageous law enforcement professionals. Together, Lieutenant Erfurth, Sergeant Symonette, Sergeant Bigler, Detective Thornton, Detective Dries, Detective Baaske, and Detective Villaverde have more than 135 years of experience on the Miami-Dade County frontline. Each has been recognized individually for their exceptional service to the community and the people of south Florida.

The Miami-Dade County (FL) government has recognized TNT members numerous times for their outstanding efforts in the war on drugs. In September 1999, the TNT was awarded the Departmental Unit Commendation and also recognized as the Outstanding Unit of the Year for 2000. In January 2001, the unit received Certificates of Commendation for outstanding dedication to duty and was recently featured in an evening news story by a south Florida CBS affiliate station.

The Miami-Dade County Tactical Narcotics Team succeeds in the most demanding of situations because, as Lieutenant Erfurth states, the team is "…a bunch of dedicated people whose hearts are all in the right place and there is a lot of camaraderie." Ms. Allison Lusby, the CBS affiliate's photojournalist assigned to the story, commended the team for their courtesy and professional insight. She stated, "I was thoroughly impressed by the dedication of these officers when given a chance to see what happens on the job for the men and women who work TNT."