United States Attorney Jenny A. Durkan
Western District of Washington
Law Enforcement Targets Gun Crime With Federal Penalties
Community Safety Program in Seattle Expanded to Stem Gun Crimes
SEATTLE – Law enforcement leaders at the federal, state and local levels announced the expansion of an anti-violence program designed to get armed criminals off the streets and improve community safety. Under this operation those caught with illegal firearms in Seattle will face a greatly increased likelihood of federal prosecution and significant prison time. This operation marks an expansion of the existing partnership between the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the King County Prosecutor’s Office in conjunction with the increased emphasis on anti-violence efforts by the Seattle Police Department and other law enforcement agencies working in Seattle.
“We are here today to send a clear message: if you use a gun in a crime, you will do more time. You will do federal time,” said U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan. “We will continue to work with organizations, the community and local law enforcement to address ways to prevent these crimes. We cannot prosecute our way out of this problem. But we will prosecute those who are the problem.”
“This partnership with the King County Prosecutor’s Office and the U.S. Attorney’s Office will help protect public safety by getting more guns off the street and providing better supervision of offenders,” said Mayor Mike McGinn.
“While we cannot predict or prevent the next senseless act of gun violence, we can do more to keep guns out of the wrong hands,” said King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg. “Felons and minors should not walk armed through our streets, and when they are found in illegal possession of a firearm, the law should act swiftly and impose a penalty equal to the danger posed to community safety.”
“The Seattle Police Department remains committed to reducing gun violence in our community. Criminals should take note. If you commit a gun crime in Seattle, we will arrest you. We will work with our partners at the Prosecutor’s Office and U.S. Attorney’s Office to ensure that you get the maximum time,” said Seattle Police Deputy Chief Nick Metz.
“And make no mistake, we will not tolerate illegal gun possession or gun violence in our streets,” said Kelvin Crenshaw, Special Agent in Charge of the ATF Seattle Field Division. “Gun violence is unacceptable and the safety and security of our communities is not negotiable. Along with our federal, state and local partners ATF remains resolute in the fight against violent crime. And to those who choose to ignore this message know this - you will be arrested, you will go to prison and your time behind iron bars will not be brief.”
Currently, under the Project Safe Neighborhood program, a Senior Deputy King County Prosecutor serves as a Special Assistant United States Attorney. He reviews all gun cases for possible federal prosecution and focuses on the “worst of the worse.” The expansion of this partnership between the county and federal prosecutors’ offices means that there will be a zero tolerance policy for weapons cases originating in Seattle and more cases will be prosecuted federally. The federal penalties include up to ten years for being a felon with a gun, a five year mandatory minimum for carrying a gun to a drug deal, and, at a 15 year mandatory minimum federal prison sentence for defendants with three prior violent felonies or drug crimes. In addition to significant prison time, federal prosecution results in more rigorous supervision by federal probation officers when felons are released into the community. Violation of the terms of supervision can result in a return to federal prison for up to five years after the felon is released.
The Seattle Police Department is directing Violence Prevention Emphasis Patrols (VPEP) to address hot spots and other areas of concern. By providing a dedicated group of officers in targeted areas, SPD and its partners are working to prevent gun violence and other crimes as well as respond to calls for service within each precinct. Assigned officers are deployed to the various areas of interest by the Incident Commander and are engaged in visible patrols and social contacts. Other long-term, multi-agency operations are continuing. For more information on guns recovered in Washington State visit: http://www.atf.gov/statistics/trace-data/
The public can aid in efforts to combat gun violence by safely storing their guns in locked gun cases. Many of the weapons used in crimes are weapons that have been stolen in burglaries. Additionally, if you are aware of someone who should not possess weapons for mental health reasons call police at 9-1-1 or the mental health crisis line at 206-461-3222.
In addition to the Seattle Police Department and ATF, the law enforcement partners include the FBI, DEA, ICE, King County Sheriff’s Office, the Washington State Department of Corrections, the Washington State Department of Licensing and the Washington State Patrol.