Necessity of Criminal Justice System Partnerships to Address Violent Offenders and Enhance Officer Safety

This blog post is one in a series related to IACP President De Lucca’s Task Force to Address Global Violence Against the Police.

The necessity of leveraging interagency resources and increasing partnerships to effectively address the most violent offenders is more essential than ever. The strengthening of existing relationships and creation of new partnerships across the criminal justice system can be highly effective in the apprehension and maximum prosecution of violent offenders. Below are a few often under-used resources to consider:

Involve Prosecutors. Cultivating the strongest possible partnerships with prosecutors is critical to ensuring that offenders with significant violent criminal histories are prosecuted to the fullest extent possible. The probability of prosecution is enhanced when prosecutors have been brought into the enforcement and investigative process at the earliest opportunity. Prosecutors and police are on the same team – building a strong case takes a collaborative approach.

Leverage Federal Criminal Code. The U.S. federal criminal code proscribes significant penalties that can assist local law enforcement in effectively removing violent criminals from their communities, particularly for offenders with a previous felony or who are otherwise prohibited from possessing firearms. Under the umbrella of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Project Safe Neighborhoods, the use of the statute prohibiting felons from possession of a firearm and other federal statutes is a successful strategy to consider for individuals who pose a threat to officers and the community through their illegal possession of firearms.

Pursue Federal Sentencing with U.S. Attorney’s Offices. Regional U.S. Attorney’s Offices are also crucial, and sometimes overlooked partners that can provide local agencies potential flexibility in ensuring maximum penalties are meted out to violent offenders. In certain jurisdictions in the United States, federal sentencing guidelines may be more effective in ensuring a criminal defendant remains incarcerated for a longer period of time. In the case of gang members, this has the potential added benefit of removing that individual from the state penal system where fellow gang associates may be housed.

Increased use of criminal justice system partnerships can yield considerable success in prosecuting offenders to the fullest extent of the law. Although increased use of such partnerships may not solely resolve the issue of violence against police, over time it is a strategy that can be effective result in addressing violent offenders and enhancing community and officer safety.

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