1,300 fugi­tives turn them­selves in dur­ing op­er­a­tion

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - By Jerry Seper

More than 1,300 fugi­tives vol­un­tar­ily turned them­selves in to lawen­force­ment of­fi­cials in Phoenix two weeks ago as part of a U.S. Mar­shals Ser­vice pro­gram to al­low peo­ple wanted for non­vi­o­lent felony or mis­de­meanor crimes to sur­ren­der.

The fugi­tives, in­clud­ing 300 with out­stand­ing felony war­rants, turned them­selves in to au­thor­i­ties at the Pil­grim Rest Bap­tist Church as part of “Op­er­a­tion Safe Sur­ren­der,” U.S. Mar­shal David Gon­za­les said in Phoenix on Nov. 22. The op­er­a­tion aims to re­duce the risk to law-en­force­ment of­fi­cers who pur­sue fugi­tives.

Those­who­sur­ren­deredinthe­op­er­a­tion, which ran from Nov. 15 through Nov. 18, did so peace­fully to take ad­van­tage of what Mr. Gon­za­les called a “brief, one-time op­por­tu­nity to take their first step to­ward a sec­ond chance in life.”

He­saidthefugi­tives­sur­ren­dered to deputy mar­shals and lo­cal au­thor­i­ties at a tem­po­rary com­mu­nity court es­tab­lished in an ad­min­is­tra­tive build­ing next to the Pil­grim Rest church. Many had their cases heard by a judge, while oth­ers re­ceived fu­ture court dates.

Eve­naftertheNov.19church­ser­vices, one day af­ter the of­fi­cial end of the Safe Sur­ren­der pro­gram, Mr. Gon­za­les said 40 more fugi­tives showed up to turn them­selves in.

“This­pro­gram­meet­sav­ery­pow­er­ful need,” said Pil­grim Rest’s leader, Bishop Alexis Thomas. “The au­thor­i­ties want fugi­tives to stop run­ning, and as we plainly wit­nessed here, many non­vi­o­lent fugi­tives want to come in and get a sec­ond chance at life.

“Fugi­tive Safe Sur­ren­der gives them that op­por­tu­nity, and our church was pleased to serve as a core part­ner in the pro­gram’s suc­cess,” he said.

The project’s core gov­ern­ment part­nersin­clud­edMari­co­paCounty Sher­iff Joe Ar­paio and County At­tor­ney Andrew Thomas. The Ari­zona At­tor­ney Gen­eral’s Of­fice also par­tic­i­pated.

“Our crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem here is one of the finest in the na­tion,” Mr. Gon­za­les said. “I moved quickly last fall to bring this pro­gram here be­cause I strongly be­lieve in its mis­sion and I knew that Mari­co­paCoun­ty­would­serveasan out­stand­ing prov­ing ground.”

Im­ple­men­ta­tion of the Safe Sur­ren­der Pro­gram is ex­pected next year in In­di­anapo­lis, and in Akron andRich­mond,Ohio.TheMar­shals Ser­vice Fugi­tive Task Force in Ari­zona be­gan a countywide fugi­tive roundup last week tar­get­ing the peo­ple who did not take ad­van­tage of the pro­gram.

As­so­ci­ated Press pho­to­graphs

Adel Calles sat with her grand­son, Bobby Gar­cia, while wait­ing to talk to a pub­lic de­fender af­ter turn­ing her­self in at Pil­grim Rest Bap­tist Church in Phoenix on Nov. 15.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.