Hot Springs crime fighters tout success of partnership

HOT SPRINGS — A violent-crime initiative the Hot Springs Police Department began with local, state and federal partners more than a year ago has resulted in 43 arrests, numerous convictions and the seizure of 55 firearms, police said Friday in a news release.

The partnership includes the 18th Judicial District East prosecuting attorney’s office, the U.S. attorney’s office in the Western District of Arkansas, the Garland County sheriff’s office, the 18th Judicial District East Drug Task Force, Arkansas State Police, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

“It has been part of an ongoing operation to unite resources for investigations, patrol efforts, and community safety strategies,” the release said.

“These arrests have resulted in numerous convictions on both a state and federal level with several prosecutions still ongoing. So far, these convictions have resulted in 50 years of state and federal incarceration time combined,” it said.

The arrests also resulted in the seizure of 55 firearms and a large amount of illegal narcotics, including marijuana, methamphetamine, cocaine, ecstasy and prescription opioids.

In the Police Department’s Strategic Plan and Violent Crime Reduction Strategy, a reduction in violent crime and gun-related violence were identified as areas of concern with an emphasis placed on addressing such incidents.

“The strategies to address these issues included a federal/state prosecution agreement that includes a dedicated state attorney, stationed in Hot Springs, to work in cooperation with the U.S. Attorney of the Western District. To date, the Garland County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office is the only prosecutor’s office in the Western District to create this arrangement,” the release said.

The strategy also spawned the creation of a Violent Crime Task Force including a partnership between local, state and federal agencies to address violent crime in the Hot Springs area. The task force continues to collaborate on ways to reduce the overall violent crime trends of the community and places a priority on the safety of the citizens and visitors of the community.

“Prosecuting violent criminal cases is one of the most important duties” for the U.S. attorney’s office, U.S. Attorney David Clay Fowlkes said in the release.

“We are proud to join with our partners in this endeavor to address violent crime and improve the safety of our communities. We look forward to leveraging our federal resources to prosecute armed, violent criminals and to seek the kinds of lengthy prison sentences that will send a message to others that this kind of criminal conduct will not be tolerated in the Western District of Arkansas,” Fowlkes said.

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