Feds surge into city E-mail
Written by Mark Nichols   

If it’s good enough for Iraq, Afghanistan and whatever's next, it’s good enough for Philly. According to the Wall Street Journal, the crime-plagued streets of Philadelphia are about to get some federal attention. Federal authorities and Philadelphia City officials say they’ve started a law-enforcement "surge" strategy to combat high rates of murder.

Philadelphia and a couple of other cities have stubbornly refused to follow national trends in terms of dropping crime rates.

According to Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey, the assistance is being welcomed with open arms.

"We need all the help we can get,” Commissioner Ramsey said.

Attorney General Eric Holder stood alongside Mayor Michael Nutter at a press conference where the officials said the federal government had assigned more than 50 federal agents and even “intelligence analysts” to the city for four whole months.

The move is part of a broader plan that taps federal resources to bolster state and local law-enforcement agencies under tight budget constraints. Agents are temporarily shifted from other postings to focus on a troubled city, with surges typically carried out in different cities at different times.

The targets of the operations are career criminals who specialize in armed robberies, carjackings, murders and drug dealing. If the feds can round up some bad guys, they can charge them with federal crimes, which carry stiffer penalties.

According to the Wall Street Journal article, instead of reacting to crimes as they happen, federal investigators will work with informants to build cases against known felons.

"Our overall goals are to identify, investigate and prosecute the worst of the worst," Sheree L. Mixell, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives special agent in charge in Philadelphia, said in an interview.

Similar programs are up and running in Oakland, Calif., and New Orleans.

The surge began in early June and since that time authorities have seized more than 80 firearms and arrested more than 300 people for alleged violent-crime, drug, firearms and other offenses, he said.

Agents selected for a surge are said to represent a mix of specialists who know how to build intelligence on targets, experts in ballistics and investigators who specialize in undercover work.

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