story updated at 5:00 p.m.
DALLAS (CBS 11 NEWS/AP) — The Dallas office of the FBI announced a new task force will work with local police departments on violent crime. Police in Dallas and Garland are hoping their initiatives will help head off crime and be more cost-effective.
“We are in different times in law enforcement,” U.S. Attorney Sarah Saldana told reporters. With lean financial times at all levels of law enforcement, these agencies think a closer collaboration provides better intelligence and smarter actions. “Now we’re talking about something where we sit back and smartly focus on those criminals that have the greatest impact,” she said.
The agencies say the FBI Dallas Violent Crimes Task Force, rolled out quietly on October 1, has already sent some suspects to federal lockup. Quick work helped them indict William Clark Pershman for two bank robberies this summer; and Charles Atkins Lewis is behind bars for kidnapping a woman in Dallas in August. FBI Special Agent In Charge Diego Rodriguez gave details. “Witnesses saw her signal for help as she was being driven east of Dallas. Lewis was indicted criminally on October 2 of this past year.”
There have been similar task forces previously for robbery, gangs, and terrorism. While robbery, especially was re-active, the Violent Crime Task Force is designed to be pro-active. Its goal is better intelligence, marrying DPD’s Fusion Center information with FBI and Garland intel and providing an instant clearinghouse for information and contacts, all reading from the same crime-fighting page.
“Dallas police detectives, [along] with FBI agents, will use a full range of contemporary tools and groundbreaking investigative strategies to bring prolific, violent offenders to justice,” Dallas Police Chief David Brown said, and explained how it could work, “There’s a name with a face with a phone number, there’s a data base access to all of these collaborative partners where we can all speak the same language but very quickly and timely and that’s important with some of these criminal enterprises that sometimes get on these crime sprees and multiple offenses occur over just a few hours.”
The U.S. Attorney’s Office is the final piece, when it comes to prosecution. “ If you can get a longer sentence for someone who deserves a longer sentence federally, you’re going to go federal,” said Saldana adding, “ If you can get quicker response from a state court, there might be a reason to go there.” Federal sentences are typically not only longer, there’s also no early release on parole.
The agencies gave no indication how large the task force would be, but Chief Brown indicated it could expand to as many as 30 to 40 if the need arises.
(©2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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