By Nathan Straus
Jacksonville Police Department’s Special Weapons and Tactics team made its first official bust Friday afternoon.
SWAT team members executed a raid on a residence at 909 Kelly St. following a year-long investigation.
Police Chief Reece Daniel said the raid went off flawlessly on any measure.
“In my ancient history, I was a SWAT team commander,” Daniel said. “This team was as professional and competent as any I’ve ever seen.”
According to Daniel, the team took control of the situation quickly in a potentially dangerous environment.
Police Sgt. Daniel Franklin, SWAT team commander, said the team performed a well-executed operation.
“All of our training in the last couple of months paid off,” he said.
JPD had maintained an ad hoc tactics team, but the team had not received official SWAT training, Franklin said. As a result, the team saw rare use and was generally used, if at all, for execution of higher-risk warrants. This changed in July when individuals in the department received formal SWAT training.
The raid, which took place about 4:55 p.m. after a search warrant was obtained, immediately saw the arrest of Lori Brooks, 43, of Jacksonville, and Melinda Kirsh, 45, of Jacksonville. Both are charged with possession and delivery of a controlled substance in penalty group 1, a first-degree felony.
A press release from the police department stated officers recovered a large amount of prescription pain killers and other drugs, as well as cash police said came from drug sales.
During the raid, police arrested several people who approached the area despite police vehicles parked in front of the residence and the presence of uniformed SWAT officers roaming the property. Daniel stopped one vehicle and arrested Chris Berry, 21, of Jacksonville, on charges of possession of cocaine and marijuana.
Franklin and other SWAT members arrested three more individuals who approached the residence. All three are males from Jacksonville.
James Hallford, 17, was arrested and charged with possession of marijuana. Chedrick Boyd, 21, and Gerald Singleton Jr., 22, were also arrested and charged with possession of marijuana.
Franklin commended the skill and training of his fellow officers, reiterating their performance quality.
“The training and equipment provided by the department made it possible for the SWAT team to execute this warrant with minimal danger to the community and officers,” he said. “I am very proud of their performance.”
“I am very proud and gratified that our officers took their time and built an airtight case before they reacted,” Daniel stated in a press release. “We have been receiving reports that many of these illegal painkillers were making their way into our schools and my first reaction was to move swiftly to stop that from happening,”
Department officials claimed the police department spent hundreds of hours investigating the location over the past year. Sgt. Jason Price dressed in a full Ghillie suit, worn for terrain concealment, and conducted surveillance from a wooded area adjacent to the residence, officials remarked. Price documented suspicious activities and photographed people approaching the house.
Daniel also said Franklin not only headed the investigation and SWAT raid, but his personal investigation led to the department securing a search warrant for the residence.
“I am grateful to him for his dedication and determination to bring this investigation to a close,” Daniel stated.
Hallford, Boyd and Singleton had their bonds set at $1,000. Kirsh’s and Brooks’ bonds were set at $30,000 total. Berry’s bond was placed at $11,000 for the two charges.
The search warrant was signed by Precinct 3 Justice of the Peace James Morris.
By Nathan Straus
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