EVANSVILLE, In. (WEHT) – The Street Crimes Unit of the Evansville Police Department wants people to know the purpose of their team, and how they work to help keep the community safe.

“We do a lot of technical stuff, as far as, assisting with phone orders, search warrants, and that kind of stuff. Also, just street level surveillance, digging into things a little deeper, and helping with violent crimes,” says Sgt. Jacob Taylor of the EPD Street Crimes Unit.

A major focus of the unit is seizing illegal firearms, helping to cut down on violent crime. In the past year, Sgt. Taylor says the Evansville Police Department brought in nearly 600 guns off the streets.

“We are trying to stop group violence in the city by reaching out to community members and getting them to talk to people that are involved in these things, and try to give them a different way to go, instead of continuing this cycle of violence,” says Taylor.

Until recently, this force was dubbed V.I.P.E.R. – which stood for Violent Incident Prevention Emergency Response. Following the public backlash to the nomenclature of the Memphis Police unit S.C.O.R.P.I.O.N. after the death of Tyre Nichols, the decision was made to retire the name.

“All across the country there’s been some issues with some specialty units having scary sounding animal names. We are trying to have good relationships with the community – not bad ones,” says Taylor.

Sgt. Taylor acknowledges he was affected by the graphic footage that emerged in the aftermath of Tyre Nichols death.

“That was probably one of the hardest videos I’ve had to watch in 21 years of being a police officer, it was just wrong in every way,” says Taylor.

The Street Crimes Unit says they will continue their work getting guns off the street in Evansville, and also strongly condemn the actions of the Memphis Police Officers that led to the death of Tyre Nichols.