OKLAHOMA CITY – As part of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Acting U.S. Attorney Robert J. Troester highlights the success of "Operation 922," which specifically targets domestic violence abusers for federal prosecution in western Oklahoma. Operation 922 was initiated by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Oklahoma in March of 2018 as part of the Justice Department’s Project Safe Neighborhoods initiative. Through Operation 922, state and tribal police departments and District Attorneys throughout the Western District of Oklahoma have direct access to federal prosecutors who review domestic violence-related cases for those that warrant federal prosecution.
"We cannot have safe neighborhoods without first having safe homes," said Acting U.S. Attorney Troester. "By bringing the power of federal prosecution to hold domestic abusers accountable, particularly when that abuser is in possession of a firearm, we are saving the lives of the women and children who are victims of the abuse, and the police officers who respond to domestic calls. We are proud to partner with the police officers, prosecutors, and non-profit entities working each day to combat the epidemic of domestic violence in Oklahoma."
"Palomar is proud to partner with the U.S. Attorney’s Office on Operation 922," said Palomar CEO and Founder Kim Garrett. "This innovative and coordinated partnership says to survivors, 'you have the full weight of the OKC metro behind you.' For the offenders out there, our holistic approach means that you have the full weight of the OKC metro seeking to ensure you’re held accountable, and you don’t hurt anyone else."
"ATF is committed to fighting all violent crime in Oklahoma. At the forefront of violent crime is domestic violence. Firearms, violence, and the home are ingredients for tragedy. Together with our partners, ATF will do everything we can to stop the cycle of domestic abuse," said ATF Dallas Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey C. Boshek II.
Oklahoma City Police Chief Wade Gourley said, "The Oklahoma City Police Department is grateful for our partnership with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, that helps us hold domestic abusers accountable for their actions. We all have the same goal of combating domestic violence. Operation 922 helps us do just that by being able to federally prosecute those abusers."
Domestic violence is not limited to specific geographic areas but exists in all neighborhoods (wealthy and poor) and in all communities (metropolitan and rural). When the most violent members of any community use firearms during acts of domestic violence, the odds that the abuse victims and responding officers could be injured or killed increase tremendously.
The Operation 922 Strategy
The Operation 922 strategy brings law enforcement and prosecutors together with common purpose and clear direction – uniting resources for the purpose of holding domestic abusers accountable. As part of this strategy, Operation 922 prioritizes prosecutions of federal firearms offenses that arise in domestic violence settings. In other words, when police officers respond to domestic violence calls, state and federal prosecutors work closely with investigating officers to determine whether firearms charges or other federal charges are applicable to the offenses committed. Common federal charges include illegal possession of a firearm or ammunition by a person (1) previously convicted of a felony offense, (2) previously convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence, or (3) subject to an active Victim Protective Order. Prosecutors have also charged domestic abusers with several other federal offenses applicable to persons prohibited from carrying firearms, including possession of a firearm by a person under indictment, drug user in possession of a firearm, and making false statements to federally licensed firearms dealers to buy a firearm.
Given the focus on the violent propensity of the abuser, federal prosecutors often seek the defendant’s pre-trial detention after arrest, in part to limit the abuser’s ability to return to the home and exert control and intimidation over victim(s) while trial is pending. The objective of Operation 922 is to stop repeated violence by domestic abusers through enforcement of federal law in domestic violence-derived cases. In addition, both federal and state prevention and re-entry programs can be utilized for lasting reductions in crime.
Operation 922 is a collaboration of law enforcement and prosecutor partners that include the United States Attorney’s Office, Oklahoma County District Attorney’s Office, Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives, U.S. Marshals Service, Oklahoma City Police Department, Midwest City Police Department, Del City Police Department, Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office, and other state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies in the Western District of Oklahoma. Operation 922 continues to expand to other communities in western Oklahoma, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office conducts regular training sessions to inform local law enforcement on elements of federal offenses.
From the beginning, Operation 922 has maintained a pivotal partnership with Palomar, Oklahoma City’s Family Justice Center. Palomar brings together multi-disciplinary resources under one roof to meet the specific and multiple areas of need experienced by the victims of domestic abuse.
Recently, the Operation 922 collaboration has expanded to include the District Attorney’s Office for District 4 (Blaine, Canadian, Garfield, Grant, and Kingfisher Counties), Canadian County Sheriff’s Office, El Reno Police Department, Yukon Police Department, and Cardinal Point, the new Family Justice Center in El Reno.
The Success and Examples
Since March of 2018, Operation 922 has resulted in federal charges for 167 separate individuals, in domestic violence-derived cases, committed in 20 different counties in the Western District of Oklahoma. Of those, 153 have already been convicted or have pled guilty, with the remaining cases still pending. At this time, 122 defendants have been sentenced by federal judges to serve, on average, nearly 75 months in federal prison. Of the 167 defendants charged, 33% are known gang members. From these defendants, a total of 236 firearms and 3,566 rounds of ammunition have been seized.
The following press releases over the past three years are examples that demonstrate the violent conduct of the abusers and the breadth of Operation 922’s impact:
For more information about Operation 922, please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Office at (405) 553-8999.