Local News

Rocky Mount curbs violent crime with help of ATF

Posted March 25, 2009 6:11 p.m. EDT
Updated March 25, 2009 10:02 p.m. EDT

— United States Attorney George E.B. Holding and Rocky Mount Police Chief John Manley announced the results of a new initiative Wednesday to curb violence in the city.

Rocky Mount had seen a sharp increase in violent crime over the last several years, and Manley said something had to be done.

"All homicides are senseless to me, but we've had so many (and) too many that were downright senseless. We've had officers hurt, shot in my tenure as chief of police. We've had a K-9 shot and killed," Manley said.

With the help of the U.S. Attorney's Office and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Rocky Mount police launched Operation Disarm. The partnership has helped identify numerous defendants for arrest and prosecution, most of them from Rocky Mount area.

The first 16 suspects arrested were publicly identified Wednesday during a news conference. The common thread among the suspects was the possession or use of a firearm, Manley said.

“These defendants include violent felons, armed drug dealers, gang members and other convicted felons that are caught with a firearm, or even just a simple piece of ammunition,” Holding said.

Because of the task force, they will also face federal charges, which carry longer, tougher sentences if they are convicted.

“We bring a huge hammer to the table when we have to deal with one of these defendants, and that huge hammer is a lengthy federal prison term. A prison term that is served without parole,” Holding said.

Funding was provided under a federal program called Operation Safe Neighborhoods.

“This partnership is a clear indicator, that when law enforcement officers at all levels work together, we achieve more,” Manley said.

Manley said they are searching for about 40 more suspects in the Rocky Mount area. Similar operations are being conducted across the state, including in Raleigh and Fayetteville.