By Randy Pierce
Officers Jennifer Hautly, Austin Sebastian, Timothy Severine and Jeremy Coppotelli from the Troy, Maryville, Collinsville and Glen Carbon police departments, respectively, are among the members of the Cross Rivers Crime Task Force which was recognized with a unit award recently by the Southern Illinois Law Enforcement Commission and Southern Illinois Police Chiefs Association.
Nominated for this honor by Madison County Sheriff Jeff Connor, the CRCTF has been successfully functioning as a cooperative group involving 11 different law enforcement agencies for several months after being put together for the purpose of combating criminal activity crossing state lines, particularly that coming from Missouri which is immediately to the west.
Formed by Connor, John Lakin, a retired Madison County sheriff, and State’s Attorney Tom Haine, this collaborative initiative has utilized such cutting-edge technology as license plate recognition through the use of electronic devices mounted at various locations to assist in the apprehension of criminal offenders.
As noted in Connor’s nomination information, the CRCTF, for the 12-month period beginning Nov. 1, 2022, conducted over 300 traffic stops leading to nearly 25 warrant arrests, numerous apprehensions for possession of controlled substances and the confiscation of over 20 weapons carried by felony offenders.
Beyond those statistics, the unit has also apprehended a murder suspect, brought about the recovery of several stolen vehicles and gathered intelligence in support of many investigations across the region.
The award, according to verbiage shared when it was presented at the SILEC/SIPCA awards event in Fairview Heights, is “not just for their impressive results but for embodying the collaborative spirit, innovation and dedication to public safety that defines the very essence of outstanding law enforcement.”
Among the other agencies represented on the CRCTF are the county sheriff’s department and police departments in Alton, Granite City, Edwardsville, Pontoon Beach, Bethalto, East Alton and Wood River.
The Southwestern Illinois Law Enforcement Commission serves St. Clair, Madison, Monroe, Randolph, Bond, Clinton and Washington counties. The purpose of the Southwestern Illinois Law Enforcement Commission is to improve and strengthen local law enforcement; to encourage research and development directed toward new and improved methods for the prevention and reduction of crime and the detection and apprehension of criminals.
The Southern Illinois Police Chiefs Association serves the region through a consortium of chief executive police leadership and partners. The SIPCA’s purpose is to provide an opportunity for the region’s law enforcement executives to exchange information, foster cooperation and devise the means for planning and promoting programs and ideas for more effective policing.