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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Department of Justice

United States Attorney James R. Dedrick Eastern District of Tennessee


LOCAL TBI AGENT HONORED AS PROJECT SAFE NEIGHBORHOODS OFFICER OF THE YEAR

[WINCHESTER, Tenn] Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) Special Agent Richard Lewis was selected as the Project Safe Neighborhoods Officer of the Year for the Eastern District of Tennessee, Winchester Division. Special Agent Lewis was honored in a ceremony held Friday, September 25, 2009, at the Winchester City Hall Annex in Winchester, Tenn.

Special Agent Richard Lewis, better known as Richie, has been an investigator with the TBI since 2006, and in law enforcement for more than 31 years. He has participated in hundreds of narcotics investigations resulting in convictions in both state and federal courts. In the fall of 2007, he and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Special Agent Stephen Gordy joined forces with the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department and Fayetteville Police Department to conduct a wide spread investigation of the sale of firearms and crack cocaine in and around Fayetteville, Tenn. Working closely with a confidential informant, Special Agent Lewis was able to establish a relationship with the crack dealers who had taken over the low income neighborhoods in Fayetteville. The drug dealers had become so emboldened that no one could drive down certain streets without being solicited repeatedly by these dealers. Most of these dealers carried weapons, making any investigation more dangerous and more necessary to the community. Through countless hours of surveillance -- listening to and transcribing audio and video tapes of controlled buys – and conducting ancillary investigations on all participants in these controlled buys, Special Agent Lewis and the other law enforcement officers were able to arrest and prosecute thirty two individuals. Twenty men and women were charged with federal gun and drug violations, while twelve were charged with similar state offenses. Through this wide-spread effort, law enforcement was able to make a significant impact in the community. Special Agent Lewis’ expertise, both in narcotics investigations and the Fayetteville area, made him a tremendous asset in this law enforcement effort. His dedication made him a vital part of this successful investigation and prosecution.

PSN is a comprehensive national strategy that creates local partnerships with law enforcement agencies to effectively enforce existing gun laws. It provides more options to prosecutors, allowing them to utilize local, state, and federal laws to ensure that criminals who commit gun crimes face tough sentences. PSN gives each federal district the flexibility it needs to focus on individual challenges that a specific community faces.

Under PSN, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Tennessee has implemented a gun violence reduction strategy based on five key elements: (1) Partnership with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies in the district to coordinate community programs and review and prepare gun cases for prosecution in the most appropriate forum; (2) Development of a strategic plan to prosecute violent gun offenders and intensify federal gun law enforcement using state-of-the-art technology and intelligence gathering techniques such as crime mapping, tracing of seized guns and ballistic technology to help connect bullets and casings to the guns that fired them; (3) Working with ATF, the National District Attorneys Association, and local law enforcement to conduct innovative regional cross-training involving prosecutors and agents participating in gun crime enforcement; (4) Working with local communities to increase awareness of PSN, promote community involvement and send a deterrent message; and (5) Measuring the impact that this renewed effort is having on reducing crime and the long-term effect that this program is having in the community.

Since the inception of the program in 2002, 1,176 defendants have been convicted in the Eastern District of Tennessee for federal firearms and related violations.

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