SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - The U.S. Marshals Service Southeast Regional Fugitive Task Force worked with local police nation-wide in Operation Violence Reduction, Twelve. With Savannah being one of the focus cities.
Savannah-Chatham Metro Police Chief Jack Lumpkin used the term worst of the worst several times while describing the fugitives taken off our streets through this operation, all targeted for having three or more prior felony arrests ranging from murder to sexual assault.
One of the fugitives arrested during Operation Violence Reduction, Twelve in Savannah is accused of killing Randy Hooks this past Christmas Day at Reynolds and East 40th.
"We're one of six regions in the country where there's been an uptick in violent crime. Between 2013 and 2015, violent crime in the Savannah area has increased by in excess of thirty percent," said U.S. Attorney Ed Tarver, Southern District of Georgia.
While Operation Violence Reduction, Twelve covered 94 federal jurisdictions, Savannah was one of the twelve cities that police knew they had to make a big impact. And in addition to hauling in 144 fugitives, police seized thousands of dollars, drugs and guns.
"We couldn't do it without the state and local, including the local District Attorney's Office to help prosecute and help push through the correct orders," said U.S. Marshals Service SERFTF Department Commander Pat Carothers. "This was not just another sweep or a round-up. Rather, a six-week long sustained enforcement operation targeting specific criminals in an effort to reduce violent crime."
Chief Lumpkin again emphasized that the fight to keep these worst of the worst off the streets doesn't end with the courts.
"We cannot continue to let armed criminals return to our streets after doing minute portions of their sentences," said Chief Lumpkin.
The U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force representatives say on average, out of the 144 arrested locally, each individual had been arrested at least ten times before.
"I'll bring up something that I said six weeks ago to the guys that do all the grunge work in the back, is I wanted to see if we could make this a positive impact. Yes, it's hard to use that as police because we don't see the most positive of people. But we can make a positive impact for the community. And I think that's what we did by taking 144 off the streets," said Carothers.
Eight thousand fugitives were arrested nation-wide in this roughly month-long operation. Local police emphasized that even though Operation V-R 12 is over, that other initiatives, like Operation End Gun Violence: Step Forward will continue, along with their cooperation with federal agencies.