CARSON CITY, Nev. (MyNews4.com & KRNV) -- With just a few hours of sunlight left on a spring afternoon, Carson City Sheriff's Office Sgt Brian Humphrey and his partner, IVO are set to begin their ten-hour shift.
But what may appear to be routine patrol, is actually more of a fishing expedition.
"I actually use that term quite a bit," said Sgt. Humphrey. "We're going fishing and we don't want to the little fish, we want to throw them back."
The big fish Humphrey is referring to, are the small percentage of the population who commit the majority of crimes in the city. To find them, the Special Enforcement Team of deputies and officers from the surrounding area establish leads the old-fashioned way.
"We're going to drive by certain locations, certain houses as get a feel as to what going on today," said Humphrey. "If you don't get out and talk to people and make the stops, you're not going to find anything."
What may start as a simple stop for a traffic violation, could end in a warning. Or lead to something much more serious.
"A simple little contact with someone who commits a minor violation, such as jaywalking or something like that, may lead to a felony warrant or someone running from us, because they have drug or a gun on them that they're not supposed to have," Humphrey explained.
The day starts like most for the team, following leads, and making lots of contacts. A couple hours into the shift, they are called to assist a fellow SET member in a traffic stop for a minor infraction.
Behind the wheel is 20-year-old Zach Porter, one of those familiar faces the team has deal with in the past for drugs. With nothing to hide, Porter takes a seat on the curb, and gives permission for IVO to search his truck. "Yeah, I'm trying to stay out of trouble. I'm on formal probation, so you guys can search me all you want."
He's all smiles as the search turns up clean. In fact, Porter is about as farmiliar with the SET team as they are with him. He was raided in the past, and the SET team found six ounces of marijuana.
As it turns out, that bust proved to be a turning point for this 20-year-old. "I was going all downhill. It was getting worse by the day with the addiction. I was getting swallowed by it."
A few days after meeting Porter, News 4 went back out to visit him at his home in Carson City. What we found was much different than his arrest record would suggest.
"I'm on a path and I want to be somewhere else in 4-5 yeas and I have it all planned out with goals," revealed Porter. "It's great to have goals."
Goals and, for the first time, a support system to stay on track.
"Ultimately people need to get sober for themselves," said Drug and Alcohol Counselor Brandie White. "I can't make them be sober, so they have to accept their treatment."
Porter finally accepted his reality inside a Washoe County jail cell. "It was going deeper and deeper, I saw my other friends going to heroine and meth and doing cocaine."
When asked if Porter thought he would have gone there, he said, "Yeah, if I didn't straighten up or get caught. Those guys (the SET team) were a focal part because if those guys didn't catch me, I'd probably be doing the same exact thing."
That success is echoed inside the walls of White's counseling office. "This last week, I've had three of my clients come to me and say they'd been stopped by the SET team, and all three came up clean, and that's good news for me. They all had a story to tell, so I think they're doing a good job out there."
"If you fall off track, you're going to see that badge in front of you," said Sheriff Ken Furlong. "If you stay on track, they have the ability to help you along."
Since initiating the Specialized Enforcement element to patrol, Furlong said success stories like Porter's and many others means one thing. "It is working. In 2013, we saw a dramatic drop in our crime levels in town. Brian Humphrey leads that team and he's doing an exceptional job."
They will continue fishing the streets of Carson City, in hopes of reducing crimes, while creating more success stories like Porter's. "I love the positive aspect of it, especially from going to my rock bottom to being good, and being in a four-year college kind of thing. My whole work's paying for it, part of the union, I would have never have thought of any of that."