For Immediate Release
Operation Take Aim: U.S. Attorney’s Office, ATF Dallas, Dallas PD Announce Summer Volent Crime Initiative
The United States Attorney’s Office – in partnership with ATF Dallas and the Dallas Police Department – today announced Operation Take Aim, a collaborative initiative designed to curb violent crime by federally prosecuting offenders most likely to harm the community when at large and by proactively engaging with these offenders to discourage them from committing further crimes and entering the federal system.
Building on the office’s already strong collaboration with ATF Dallas, the Dallas Police Department, and other state and local law enforcement partners, Operation Take Aim has two components. First, it complements law enforcement’s earlier efforts – which focused primarily on specific locations – by zeroing in on the most dangerous repeat offenders with violent criminal histories and prosecuting their crimes federally.
Second, it involves holding deterrence programs called “Reentry Nights” for individuals in the state criminal justice system. Reentry Night programming encourages these offenders to pursue an education or other productive life path and deters them from committing more crimes. Take Aim also bolsters federal involvement in initiatives like the Dallas Police Department’s Focused Deterrence sessions, which seek to provide support services to a specific set of offenders identified by data as most likely to reoffend.
The United States Attorney’s Office has already ramped up coordination with Dallas Police and ATF to vet each violent crime case within the jurisdiction’s borders and determine which should be prosecuted federally. (Federal charges carry significantly stiffer sentences on some crimes than state charges do, and there is no possibility of parole.)
Because the coordination involves constant collaboration between federal prosecutors and other state and local agencies, the office is devoting even more prosecutors to handling these cases.
Operation Take Aim builds on Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia’s focused deterrence program, an initiative funded in part by a Justice Department grant that endeavors to change the behavior of high-risk offenders through a combination of deterrence, incapacitation (arrest), and community involvement.
“Given a foothold, violent crime rips through communities. Our neighbors turn into casualties. Talk to any violent crime survivor and they’ll tell you: Their blood pressure never quite returns to normal. Once you’ve been victimized, life always feels precarious, no matter where you go,” U.S. Attorney Leigha Simonton said at a press conference at the Earle Cabell Federal Building Monday morning.
“If we believe someone presents a heightened risk of continued violence, we will take their case federally,” Ms. Simonton said. “When you commit a violent crime, all of us are on the case. And together, we have the manpower, the technology, and the expertise to apprehend you, prosecute you, and put you behind bars.”
“It takes all of us to fight and prevent crime and criminal activity,” Chief Garcia said. “It doesn't matter if offenders commit acts of violence themselves, with a gang, a crew, a posse, or who they hang out with. We have made it our business to learn about individuals causing violence in Dallas. Re-offending is not an option, and we will not let violent activity become the status quo in Dallas.”
“Every one of these cases causes trauma. We are committed to putting these people in jail. ATF has doubled down here in Dallas,” said ATF Dallas Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey Boshek. “Nowhere in the country is there the support and the cooperation amongst federal prosecutors, state prosecutors, police departments, and the feds like there is here in north Texas. We’re committed to helping make Dallas and north Texas safer.”
Of particular interest to Take Aim officers, agents, and prosecutors are gun crimes, including prohibited person in possession of a firearm, unlicensed dealing, straw purchasing, and brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence.
At Monday’s press conference, Ms. Simonton, the district’s chief federal law enforcement officer, announced that the Northern District of Texas is on track to convict substantially more firearm offenders than in previous years. (The district, which has historically convicted around 400 firearm offenders each year, consistently ranks among the top five districts in the nation for gun-crime cases filed. The district’s gun crime conviction rate stands at 97 percent – four percentage points higher than the national average.)
One such case is U.S. v Suttles. Javier Dominque Suttles, 26, had already plead guilty in the state system to two robberies and been placed on deferred adjudication and community supervision. During his time under supervision, he allegedly committed three armed robberies over the course of just five days. Each time, he brandished a handgun with an extended magazine and menaced store employees. During one incident, Mr. Suttles – apparently frustrated that there wasn’t more cash on the premises -- allegedly ordered an employee into the bathroom and forced the employee to strip naked.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Texas charged Mr. Suttles with two federal crimes: Interference with commerce by robbery and brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence. A federal judge immediately ordered him detained pending trial. Mr. Suttles is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law; if convicted, however, he faces up to 27 years in federal prison.
In addition to prosecuting gun crimes and building up deterrence programs, federal agents and prosecutors will be taking part in community initiatives including those endorsed by Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson’s Summer of Safety program.
Operation Take Aim comports with United State Attorney General Merrick Garland’s directive to U.S. Attorneys to prioritize combatting gun violence and other violent crime.