A law enforcement task force that hunts down fugitives recorded 685 arrests in Montana in 2009, a record tally that's almost double the figure from five years ago, officials said Wednesday. "These are not misdemeanor arrests," U.S. Marshal Dwight MacKay said Wednesday. "These are people that are hardened criminals that need to be taken off the streets, that rape our babies, that bring dope into the community." Most of the arrests came in Billings and surrounding counties. Chief Deputy Marshal Rod Ostermiller said Wednesday that the Montana Violent Offender Task Force hopes to have a full-time presence in Missoula by the end of the year and in Great Falls in the future. The task force, which is run by the U.S. Marshals Service, Yellowstone County Sheriff's O f f i c e, B i l l i n g s Po l i c e Department and Montana Department of Corrections, has cleared more than 2,600 cases since it was formed in 2005. Of the cases cleared, about a third, or 859, were based on warrants issued in drug cases. Assaults, burglaries and sex crimes each accounted for hundreds of arrests. Forty-five were in homicide cases, 11 kidnapping cases and 111 involved weapons crimes. Yellowstone County Sheriff John Bell said the task force's work had helped drive down a lengthy backlog of arrest warrants that allowed criminals to stay on the streets longer. The task force started with just two full-time officers. It now has four full-time and one part-time position and can call on another 14 to 16 law enforcement officers to provide back up as needed, said Supervisory Deputy U.S. Marshal Dan Orr.
Feds: Task force arrested 685 fugitives in 2009
Published: Thursday, February 4th, 2010
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