New task force seeks Western Slope fugitives
July 15, 2010
GRAND JUNCTION, Colorado – More than 2,000 wanted felons from western Colorado are the focus of a new Colorado Fugitive Task Force, authorities said Wednesday.
At least half of those felony fugitives are from Garfield, Mesa and Eagle counties. Another 15,305 fugitives from western Colorado are wanted on misdemeanor charges.
To improve the chances of capturing people with outstanding warrants, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation convened the task force. It consists of 45 local, state and federal agencies with jurisdictional authority in 13 western Colorado counties.
Grand Junction Police Chief John Camper said the new task force will allow agencies to share leads and tips in an organized fashion. The bureau, he said, will serve as a “central clearing house,” for intelligence gathered. The intelligence will be distributed to partner law enforcement agencies.
“It’s an unparalleled collaboration,” between local, state, and federal agencies, said Peter Weir, executive director or the Colorado Department of Public Safety.
“From the New Mexico to the Wyoming borders, we’re implementing a new strategy to track down, apprehend and prosecute felons.”
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Weir announced the formation of the task force Wednesday at the Colorado Bureau of Investigation’s Grand Junction office.
“The message we’re sending today is, ‘we’re coming after you,'” Weir said. “If you come to western Colorado with a warrant, we’ll find you.”
Participating agencies include western Colorado sheriffs, police chiefs, town marshals, U.S. Marshals; agents from the FBI, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Colorado Department of Corrections, and local district attorneys.
“Working together we plan to find the sex offenders, the predators and other criminals wherever they are hiding in western Colorado,” said CBI-Grand Junction assistant director Dave Linnertz.
The four regions involved are Moffat, Routt and Rio Blanco counties (more than 200 wanted felons; Eagle, Pitkin and Garfield counties (more than 550 wanted felons); Mesa County (nearly 600 wanted felons); and Delta, Montrose, San Miguel, Ouray, Gunnison and Hinsdale counties (nearly 500 wanted felons).
The fugitive task force will enhance communication; identify the most egregious offenders; and combine resources of the individual law enforcement agencies, Weir said.
“It’s a recommitment, a re-dedication, by all the partners to get these [criminals],” Weir said. “It’s been proven to be very effective in other jurisdictions.”