Partnerships key in fight against violent crime - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Partnerships key in fight against violent crime

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    Friday, October 4 2013 3:43 PM EDT2013-10-04 19:43:45 GMT
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SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. (FOX13) - Leaders say gun violence plagues our community. It's a police issue and a public health concern, and it happens on our streets and spills over into our schools.

Gun violence keeps prosecutors busy in Shelby County. Western District of Tennessee U.S. Attorney Edward Stanton III says partnerships are the key in the fight against violent crime in our region.

Violent crime is a focus for Stanton. I's a bigger problem here in West Tennessee than it is for many of his colleagues across the country.

"We're plagued with a number of issues, firearms and violent crimes throughout this community, and so it remains the priority more so here than maybe in other districts," he said.

Stanton was appointed by President Barack Obama to run the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Tennessee. He's based in Memphis but his office handles federal prosecutions in 22 counties in the state.

"No matter what ZIP Code you live in, what side of the aisle that you may be on politically or socioeconomically we're certainly impacted by violent crime and any one crime committed with a firearm or violently is one to many in this community," Stanton said.

The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Tennessee works with the FBI and local police departments to run the Safe Streets Task Force, which investigates business robberies, bank robberies and carjackings; violent crimes where the suspects use guns and they're often repeat offenders.

"Those are the individuals that we look to take federally and often times are facing sentences from anywhere from 15-20 years to life without parole," Stanton said.

The U.S. Attorney's Office works closely with local police and prosecutors to decide which cases they can take. 

"I'm looking for, our mantra has been, the worst of the worst those individuals that just, in essence, they don't get the memo and that they're outwreakingg havoc throughout our community," Stanton said.

The office also runs a program called Project Safe Neighborhoods. Every week federal prosecutors meet with prosecutors in Shelby County District Attorney General Amy Weirich's office to go over every gun crime committed.

Stanton said partnerships like this are key to making progress in the fight against the violence.

"Egos are checked at the door," he said. "I'm happy to say and sometimes that's rare but it really is about the bottom line getting the worst of the worst offenders off the street and doing what's right for the community first, and we've been very successful doing that."

Stanton added that outreach is another focus for his office. He heads to middle schools around West Tennessee to talk with students and he wants to get them on the right path.

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