Baker, Biden, and Connolly Announce Federal Law Enforcement Resources for the City of Wilmington
Wilmington Mayor James M. Baker today welcomed U. S. Senator Joseph R. Biden, U.S. Attorney Colm F. Connolly, and group of federal law enforcement officials to his office for a morning meeting and subsequent public announcement concerning Federal crime assistance for Wilmington to counter the flow of guns and drugs into the City.
The announcement of the City's acceptance of Federal law enforcement assistance comes after weeks of meetings and discussions between the City and Senator Biden, U.S. Attorney Connolly, and representatives of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), and the U.S. Marshal Service. At today's news conference, the Senator, U.S. Attorney, and Mayor discussed the federal initiatives that will compliment an overall deployment and tactical policing plan scheduled to be unveiled by Wilmington Police Chief Michael J. Szczerba this afternoon. The Federal resources include the deployment of a joint shooting response team to assist City Police in obtaining intelligence-related information to assist with investigations, a drug homicide task force focusing on drug-related shootings, a new, permanent FBI agent for Delaware, and a state-of-the-art gun tracing machine. "The Mayor and his Public Safety team are aggressively attacking the problems facing the City and these Federal law enforcement resources are providing more weapons for their arsenal," said Senator Biden. "These men and women are here to work with Wilmington police. They'll go where the Mayor, his Public Safety Director, and Police Chief tell them they are most needed."
U.S. Attorney Connolly also commented on the new Federal agency support for City law enforcement efforts. "The United States Department of Justice is committed to helping the City in its efforts to reduce gun violence," said the U.S. Attorney. "All of our component agencies - the United States Attorney's Office, the FBI, ATF, DEA, and the Marshal's Service - will support and work with the Mayor and Chief Szczerba to accomplish this goal."
Details of the Federal assistance include:
· A commitment obtained by Senator Biden from FBI Director Mueller Director, to increase the agency's authorized strength in the region by adding one permanent agent specifically assigned to Delaware. The addition of this agent will allow for the creation of two separate FBI agent squads, with one team focusing solely on terrorism and the other concentrating on traditional crime fighting initiatives including crimes associated with the use of illegal guns and drugs in Wilmington.
· The DEA will also establish a "Drug Homicide Task Force," comprised of two DEA Special Agents and two deputized Wilmington Police detectives, to perform an in-depth investigation of all shootings for connections to long-term drug investigations and violent drug trafficking organizations. This task force will work solely on investigations originating from the Wilmington area to eliminate sources to supply local traffickers.
· The ATF will provide, free of cost, a second Integrated Ballistic Identification System (IBIS) that allows for the identification of guns used in separate shootings from "prints" on the bullets or casings. The State currently has one IBIS machine, but the added machine will allow for more expeditious gathering of data.
· The ATF will work also with the Wilmington Police Department (WPD) to more expeditiously examine and track evidence through crime-gun tracing efforts performed by the ATF's Intelligence Group. The Group will perform a global analysis of data gathered from all guns confiscated in the City over the past year.
· The Federal agencies will redeploy a "Shooting Response Team," first used during a similar spike in crimes in 2001. The team, comprised of agents from the FBI, ATF, and officers from the WPD, will be quickly deployed to the scene of a shooting to canvas the area, interview witnesses, and collect evidence.
· The City will sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the U.S. Attorney's Office today formalizing the City's participation in the U.S. Marshal's Fugitive Task Force. This task force and the U.S. Marshal's Service has been successful in reducing crime in numerous cities by taking violent offenders off the street. Participation in the task force operations will enable the City to increase its efforts at apprehending the most violent offenders who are wanted by various law enforcement agencies.