Local Fugitives Behind Bars
It's part of a nationwide program funded by congress called Operation FALCON, an acronym for Federal And Local Cops Organized Nationally.
Charles Henry Helton has a long history of trouble, from a bank robbery conviction to a charge of sexual battery. So when he violated his probation, law enforcement officers were looking to bring him back in. Through Operation FALCON they did, along with many other fugitives.
Gainesville Police Department, Gilchrist County Sheriff's Office and High Springs Police are just a few of the 15 agencies from North Central Florida involved with hunting down 50 fugitives, targeting violent criminals, sexual offenders and gang members on the loose. It's the third year for Operation FALCON.
"It's very productive because we take the worst of the worst off the streets in Alachua, Gilchrist, Dixie, Lafayette and Levy ounties," says Supervisory Deputy Marshal John Hallman. "The sexual predators that are hanging out at playgrounds and things like that."
What makes this operation unique is that local officers and deputies are sworn in as special Deputy U.S Marshals. Local law enforcement is usually bound by local jurisdiction. For example, Gainesville Police detectives are usually bounded by Gainesville city limits. But under Operation FALCON, they can go to Dixie County or Levy County to search for the person they are looking for.
People like Anthony Hardy, wanted for sex offender violations, or Lisa Hodge wanted for probation violations. Across the U.S Marshal's Northern District of Florida which stretches from Gainesville across the panhandle to Pensacola there were 210 fugitive arrests clearing more than 300 warrants.
Operation FALCON began in June along the West Coast and will continue in other parts of the country through next month. Hallman says if congress funds it, he looks forward to doing it again next year.
By Dan Breitwieser, WCJB TV20 News
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