Blue Crush statistics

Kindergartners at Brinkley Heights Urban Academy already know enough math to figure out how many feet separate their classroom from this former crack house... Just add up the fingers on any five of them.

But math problems aren't the only ones facing kids who dodge drug dealers daily.

Peggy Barkley with Brinkley Heights Ministries says, "Children have died, women are afraid, churches are praying."

Salvation, it seemed, came with the well-publicized Operation Blue Crush... cutting edge crime fighting using crime stats to identify and target crime hot spots.

When Memphis Police swooped into the area around Brinkley Heights Academy last October, officers closed down the crack houses, and rounded up nearly FIVE-hundred drug dealers, users, and other suspected criminals.

Tim Cox with the Brinkely Heights Urban Academy says, "The impression was that they really were coming out and taking anybody they could find, anybody that had a warrant on them, anybody who had drugs on them, they loaded them up that day."

A slam dunk. Or was it?

Cox continues, "What I really noticed was that some of the guys that they came out and picked up didn't stay locked up very long."

Memphis Police tell Action News Five the first two Blue Crush operations in August and October of last year lead to 604 arrests, but when we asked for some sort of report on whatever happened to the suspects in those cases, the department told us they hadn't crunched the numbers yet.

So we did.

We built a database of all 604 offenders arrested in both Blue Crush operations.

The computer then randomly selected suspects from each roundup, which I tracked through the court system.

M-P-D made 153 arrests in the August sweep. We studied 15-percent of those cases, 27 in all... A large enough sample to get an accurate picture of the types of offenders the operation brought in and what happened to them.

Charges ranged from drug possession to prostitution, to disorderly conduct.

Of those 27 cases, only one carried felony charges... charges that were eventually dropped.

In the remaining 26 cases, those arrested were either charged with misdemeanors or not charged at all.

Only two remain in jail.

Memphis Police Director Larry Godwin says, "What good is it if you're going to round all these guys up just to let them go? Well it's kind of like I used to always tell the officers, when I was in patrol, you do what you got to do, you can't control certain things, you do what you got to do."

When Blue Crush did it again in October, M-P-D picked up 451 offenders.

Action News Five tracked 10-percent, 44 suspects from that sweep through the courts...We found 10 felony cases this time. Six suspects landed in State Court, the other four were not prosecuted.

Godwin continues, "I don't think we're where we want to be yet, by any stretch of the imagination, but I think we're going in that direction."

U of M criminologist Richard Janikowski says the growing number of felony prosecutions from Blue Crush proves that progress.

Janikowski says, "I think you've done us a great public service by actually looking at that data that the serious felony cases are being prosecuted. That's an important message for offenders and the community to hear."

It's a message that may be mixed.

Only seven of the 44 suspects we tracked from the October sweep remain locked up.

Back in the neighborhoods, residents want more.