U.S. Marshal’s task force arrested more than 1,000 in ’08

Members of the U.S. Marshals Southeast Regional Fugitive Task Force closed more than 1,370 cases by arresting 1,034 people wanted in Middle Georgia, according to 2008 statistics released this week.

In addition, more than 70 cases have been closed by task force arrests since the first of January, said John Edgar, the deputy U.S. marshal who supervises the task force.

Edgar said the 16-member team seeks out fugitives, saving area law enforcement agencies time and manpower.

“This is how agencies get a handle on their crime,” he said.

The task force is made up of U.S. marshals, employees of the Georgia Department of Corrections and the Georgia Board of Pardons and Parole, Edgar said.

Police officers from Macon and Warner Robins and deputies from Bibb and Jones counties also are members of the team, he said.

Edgar said the members of the task force not employed by the U.S. Marshals receive a salary from their home department, but the marshals pay them overtime and provide a vehicle if one is available.

“They have all the power of a deputy marshal,” he said.

Bibb County Chief Deputy Sheriff David Davis said the sheriff’s office has reaped benefits from assigning one investigator to the task force.

He said deputies investigate crimes until they have enough information to obtain a warrant. Then they turn over the job of hunting the suspect to the task force.

“It frees up investigators to do other things,” he said. “The task force is a big help.”

Edgar said cases are prioritized based upon the agencies participating in the task force and the seriousness of an offense.

“If it’s a violent crime, we want to get that person first,” he said, adding crimes against children also receive a high priority.

Edgar said law enforcement agencies with employees on the task force receive higher priority than other agencies.

In addition to making arrests, task force members supplement manpower when agencies serve search warrants and perform license checks in drug infested areas, he said.

Edgar said the team is funded by Congress and has had a Macon office since 2003.

To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398.