Broward Sheriff's Office credits VIPER unit for 316 arrests

Violent Intervention Proactive Enforcement Response unit tracks most violent criminals

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Meet the Broward Sheriff's Office's Violent Intervention Proactive Enforcement Response (VIPER) unit, which tracks the county's most violent criminals.

Since February, the unit made 316 arrests and seized 37 firearms.

"What we did is we combined our gang squad and our gun squad and we are now going after what we believe are the six percent of criminals who are approximately [responsible for] 65 percent of the violent crimes," said Broward Sheriff Scott Israel.

BSO officials didn't say how they find those criminals.

"It's very complicated. Some of it is very sophisticated," said BSO Capt. Dan Christopher.

In March, the VIPER unit arrested Christopher Ferguson, who pleaded guilty to robbing a Brinks armored truck. They intervened when investigators say Andrew Thomas planned to rob an Allstate Insurance office in Pembroke Pines in July.

"He (informant) told us he's (Thomas') going to go in there, he's going to have a gun, and if need be, he's going to kill the ladies that work there," said Christopher.

"This unit is designed toward making our public safer," added Israel.