For the past seven years, Phoenix police Detective John Hobbs was part of an elite squad of the department's Major Offenders Bureau.
The MOB unit comprises 20-plus detectives who spend their days tracking down the worst and most violent criminals on the streets.
It is very close-knit unit, and given the circumstances surrounding Hobbs' death during a shootout with a wanted felon Monday, they weren't up to talking.
But someone who does the same thing for a different agency did give a perspective of what that unit faces.
"We go after the worst of the worst a lot," said U.S. Deputy Marshal Matt Hershey. "So we're used to seeing people who have been in for murder, who've been in for very dangerous crimes."
Hershey supervises a Fugitive Task Force squad very similar to the Phoenix MOB unit.
"It's a very dynamic environment, where you can be sitting at a house for 12 hours one day and then at the drop of a hat be going 100 miles an hour reacting to the action of a bad person," Hershey said.
The squads make thousands of arrests every year. They run surveillance, research their suspects, learn their patterns and who they hang out with.
Then they plan the most effective and safe way to take them down.
"It happens every day," Hershey said. "It's happening right now as we speak, in multiple places all over the city and state."
No two suspects react the same, Hershey said, adding the only thing that can be counted on is the unpredictability of the situation.
"We may be following a family member, an associate, and all the sudden they pick up the suspect and then you have to go from one mode to the other very quickly," Hershey said. "So it's very dynamic, and it's an environment that is very flexible and very fast moving."
Hershey said, for the most part, those who are wanted are always looking over their shoulders. While they may be aware police are looking for them, they too are looking for police.
"They're trying to avoid jail at all costs, and they'll do anything to try and do that," he said.
Specialty details like the MOB unit have been credited with helping to reduce not only violent crimes in the city, but also property crimes, officials said.
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