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DPS, U.S. Marshals Service join forces to address warrants backlog

PHOENIX – A joint effort involving the Arizona Department of Public Safety and U.S. Marshals Service will address a backlog of outstanding warrants in the state while saving on costs, the director of DPS said Thursday.

“This collaboration with DPS and the Marshals Service is in keeping with Gov. Brewer’s desire for increased efficiency, and it will also provide a valuable force to fight the criminal element to make our streets safer,” Roger Vanderpool said.

DPS’ Violent Criminal Apprehension Team is merging with the Arizona Wanted Task Force of the U.S. Marshals Service to better track the 60,000 fugitives in Arizona.

David Gonzales, the U.S. marshal for Arizona, said the effort, bringing together manpower, intelligence and databases, is overdue given the large number of arrest warrants coming from the courts.

“We cannot arrest our way out of this problem,” Gonzales said. “We’re going to go after the real thugs out there that need to be picked up.”

Former Gov. Janet Napolitano called for the creation of the Criminal Apprehension Team last May to reduce the number of outstanding warrants. Since then, the team has arrested 780 fugitives and cleared 666 felony warrants, according to DPS.

The team works with local law enforcement agencies, sharing intelligence and identifying violent fugitives to step up the pace of arrests.

Tom Ryff, chief of police for Tempe, said that with the new partnership, criminals are going to have a tough time trying to outrun the law.

“There will be no place to hide, we will catch you, we are looking for you, we have the resources to do it, and clearly we have demonstrated that we’re on the ball,” Ryff said.

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