Program puts tough law on violent crime

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Program puts tough law on violent crime

Unread post by Primetime » September 7th, 2005, 7:04 pm

Fresno police on Tuesday praised a federally funded program they say helps them crack down on felons using guns in crimes.

The Violent Crime Impact Team has made 693 felony arrests in the past three months, Police Chief Jerry Dyer said.

"It has been very, very effective," Dyer said.

The program allows federal, state and local authorities to closely work together and prosecute cases on the federal level where gun laws are stiffer than state laws. The department expects that 16 cases will be prosecuted at the federal level.

And the program might help in reducing crime by making felons think twice about gun crime.

"Many of the officers out there along with informants and even suspects [are saying] that the word is out there [on the program] ... It tells us we are making an impact in the community and making progress," said Michael Gleysteen, an assistant special agent from the Justice Department's Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

The project soon will include an ad campaign with signs featuring a slogan such as "Not good in the hood." A total of 25 cities, including Fresno, have been chosen for the six-month project, and it might be extended.

Dyer says the project helps them get information on suspected gang members.

"Those facing long federal time can become federal informants," Dyer said.

Violent crime such as homicide and robbery in Fresno decreased by 14% in the years from 2002 to 2004, but is expected to climb statewide, Dyer said. Under the state system, gun crime or firearm possession can lead to two to three years in prison but within the federal system it's 10 years or more, according to authority agencies.

The U.S. Attorney's Office and the District Attorney's Office are working together to use the strongest laws, which means prosecuting felons at the federal level.

If felons are prosecuted under federal guidelines they can be sent to prisons throughout the country. It also means local gang members won't find their buddies in the same prison they're headed to so they'll find a tougher environment.

An additional 20 cases, because of the program, are expected to result in numerous arrests in the near future, Dyer said.

Fresno's team gets assistance from eight agents from the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and a deputy marshal.

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