Fugitive captures increase in Western Pa. thanks to task force
The Western Pennsylvania Fugitive Task Force has muscled into a force that took 512 suspected killers, sex offenders, gang members and others off the streets in the past year.
“The great performance of the fugitive task force makes Western Pennsylvania safer,” U.S. Attorney David Hickton said Friday.
Allegheny County Sheriff William Mullen agreed, saying that his agency participates in the task force because of its effectiveness.
“I think task forces are the way to go because you're sharing information,” he said.
The Law Enforcement Agency Directors of Western Pennsylvania presented the task force with one of its team awards at its annual ceremony last week.
Chief Deputy U.S. Marshal Michael Baughman said the creation of the task forces nationwide 13 years ago allowed police to capture fugitives faster. One example came in August during the unit's investigation of a Sheraden shooting in March, in which suspects pulled the victim off a party bus and killed him following an argument.
The local task force arrested the two men suspected of being responsible for the shooting, but also found that two women were involved. They fled to Ohio shortly after the murder.
The local task force called its counterpart in Columbus.
“That day, they had them in custody,” Baughman said.
The U.S. Marshals Service heads up the task force.
The task force investigates fugitives in 25 counties in Western Pennsylvania and has satellite offices in Erie and Johnstown, which have their own task forces. The Pittsburgh task force consists of six marshals, two state parole agents, two Pittsburgh police detectives, one state trooper and one deputy sheriff each from Allegheny and Westmoreland counties.
Between October 2012 and September 2013, the task force arrested 512 people charged with violent felonies, including 71 sex offenders, 54 gang members and 17 homicidesuspects. In the previous year, they arrested 437 people.
Its move in May 2012 from a city-donated space in Squirrel Hill to offices on the first floor of the federal courthouse, Downtown, gave the task force a more secure location, said U.S. Marshal Steven R. Frank.
“They can drive into the courthouse parking and not be seen,” he said.
That's important because they need anonymity to do their jobs, he said. Its current office is several times larger than the Squirrel Hill location was, said Chief Deputy U.S. Marshal Michael Baughman. Frank said they are grateful to the city for the use of the Squirrel Hill location for more than eight years, but the extra room and security is welcome.
The added security means the task force has access to all its files, Frank said. Before, only working files were kept at the office; the rest were stored at the courthouse, he said. The Squirrel Hill site had limited access to law enforcement databases.
“Here we have full access to multiple databases,” he said.
Brian Bowling is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-325-4301 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- $5M Penn Avenue reconstruction project is ‘killing everything’
- Controller recommends hiring to reduce 911 center overtime
- Duquesne Club seeks permission from city to keep 4 rooftop bee hives
- Police: Estranged husband fatally shot by woman’s boyfriend after break-in attempt in Esplen
- Threat at Sheraden school a ‘student hoax’
- Pittsburgh spends $11,701 for police to patrol bike lane, mostly on overtime pay
- Allegheny authority bends limits on free tickets for pro sporting events
- Penn Hills school officials trying to correct transportation problems
- Allegheny County RAD increases budget by $2.5M for cultural, recreational programs
- August Wilson Center face-off to start
- $21 million unfrozen for Pennsylvania school construction