Federal officials announced Thursday the success of Operation Falcon — in which dozens of fugitives from the Portland Metropolitan area were rounded up and incarcerated.
It’s the third year in a row that all the law enforcement agencies in the area have joined together to conduct the intensive five-day sweep.
As Kristian Foden-Vencil reports, officials say it both saves them time and money – and makes the city as safer place to live.
Over the last six weeks Operation Falcon has swept up fugitives in 14 cities across the country. From August 8th to 10th it was Portland’s turn.
The U.S. Attorney for Oregon, Karin Immergut, says about 130 officers from 24 different agencies all worked together.
Karin Immergut:"Because of this operation residents of the Portland Metorpolitan area are safer today. 175 fugitives, all of whom had outstanding warrants have been caught and put in jail."
Immergut put the figure in perspective.
Karin Immergut: “During the same week of operation, which was last week, Boston and Jersey City were running similar operations. In Boston they captured 73 fugitives, in Jersey City they captured 174. Here with our number of 175, not to be competitive, but we came out on top. But that was because of the fine work of the men and women of law enforcement in the Portland Metro area.”
While 175 might sound like a lot of villains, it’s sobering to know that there are 35,000 outstanding felony warrants in Oregon. The U.S. Marshall for the state, Dennis Merrill, says in this sweep officers focused on sex offenders, violent offenders and those with drug and firearms offenses.
Merrill says they focused on the worst of the worst.
Dennis Merrill: “The vast majority of fugitives are repeat offenders. Apprehending these individuals really does make a difference in the livability of our neighborhoods and it makes our communities safer.”
Some critics question the wisdom of concentrated fugitive sweeps. They’re concerned it further fills a struggling jail system and inundates District Attorneys with new cases.
Dennis Merrill: “The interesting thing is, all of these people have active warrants. So all the work has already been done. The warrants have been issued, it’s just a matter that these guys are in fugitive status, they’re out running around, they need to be apprehended and brought back in.”
U.S. Marshall Dale Ortmann, who helped conduct the sweeps, says working with 24 different police agencies at the same time made a massive difference.
Dale Ortmann: “We do our job better when we’re with them, and they do their job better with us because of our jurisdiction and our authority that goes outside the state. So, it’s a no brainer. You’re going to make more arrests. We’ll do it again. And it’s going to get more and more every time.”
Authorities are already planning Operation Falcon for next year, but they’re not saying what their focus will be or when the sweep will happen.