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July 10, 2014, 1:53 pm

Feds partner with city to fight crime

Attorney General Eric Holder was in Philadelphia yesterday to announce a Department of Justice strategy that applies federal agents and technology to assist local law enforcement in targeting and taking down some of the city’s worst criminals.

The Violent Crime Reduction Partnership is a joint effort by the FBI, the Philadelphia Police Department and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, along with the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office. Personnel from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the U.S. Marshals Service have also been working with local law enforcement to strategically target the city’s most violent criminals. Holder said that last month law enforcement authorities from the federal agencies began a “surge” to fight and prevent crime throughout the city.

As of Tribune press time, there have been 196 murders in the city; most of them directly attributed to gun violence.

“Despite the fact that the national violent crime rate has continued its downward trend, a number of major cities across the country — including Philadelphia — have experienced alarming increases in the number of homicides over the past year,” Holder said. “In response, the Department of Justice has developed a new initiative — known as the Violent Crime Reduction Partnership — to help target federal resources to areas in need of additional support. Early last month, more than 50 federal law enforcement officials — including agents, investigators and intelligence analysts from the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; the Drug Enforcement Administration; the United States Marshals Service; and representatives of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and the Justice Department’s Criminal Division — began a four-month surge of federal law enforcement resources in order to prevent and combat violent and drug-related crime across the Philadelphia metropolitan area.”

The Violent Crime Reduction Partnership came into being on June 4. Over a period of six weeks, the Partnership has made more than 300 arrests for violent crimes, drugs, illegal firearms and other offenses. The Partnership personnel have been using advanced technology to build intelligence on different crime organizations operating in Philadelphia’s neighborhoods.

“Already, our agents have helped apprehend dangerous fugitives, investigate armed robberies, gather and process valuable intelligence, and bring criminals to justice,” Holder said. “They’ve deployed new, state-of-the-art equipment to support ballistics identification in gun-related crimes. And in the coming months — as they continue to work alongside, and reinforce relationships with key local partners like many of the leaders in this room — their activities will help to refine an innovative public safety approach that is beginning to show signs of tremendous promise.”

Last month $3 million in COPS grants were allocated to Philadelphia to hire 25 more police officers. Mayor Nutter said the Violent Crime Reduction Partnership represents the next step in the joint effort to make the streets of the city safer.

“The Violent Crime Reduction Partnership is the next stage in efforts by local and federal law enforcement to target the most violent offenders in our city and bring them to justice,” Nutter said. “We are grateful for the partnership and the support of the attorney general as we work together to make Philadelphia safer. To the violent criminals hiding in our city, I’m telling you, we are coming after you, we will find you. Your hiding days are over.”