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Tackling Tulsa's top criminals

Federal agents were in Tulsa Monday to talk about what a good job local officers and federal agents have done of arresting many of the worst career criminals and getting guns off the streets.

News on 6 crime reporter Lori Fullbright says the media had lots of coverage in 2003 when Tulsa's homicide rate was at an all-time high, because of a rivalry between two gangs in north Tulsa.

There were news conferences and church leaders and officers pledging to work together to curb the problem, has it worked? The numbers say yes.

The federal government selected 15 cities where they were add ATF agents to the officers on the streets and let them work together to find and arrest the worst, most violent criminals out there.

Deputy US Attorney General Jim Comey: "Every community, and Tulsa is no different, has those guys. Those guys who make little old ladies afraid to sit on their porch, those guys who make moms scared to let their kids walk to the bus stop and those kids who can't ride their bikes to the store to get a quart of milk."

The agents and officers working together were called the Violent Crime Impact Team or VCIT. And, in eight months in Tulsa, they arrested 294 people, 75 of those were gang members, they confiscated more than $700,000 and got 920 firearms off the streets.

Carl Truscott, ATF Director: "That's 920 firearms that are no longer a threat to your community." They say Tulsa's homicide rate dropped by 30 percent between 2003 and 2004 and the good news keeps coming.

Tulsa Police Chief Dave Been: "This year, in 2005, we've seen a 50 percent decrease in homicides and a 25 percent decrease in assaults. And, it's all because those agents working at UDN and Luke Sherman's guys all doing a tremendous job with few resources."

So many people have poured their hearts into this effort and sacrificed time with their families to make Tulsa safer, the gang unit, the fugitive squad, the patrol officers, homicide detectives plus all the federal agents and it's been so successful, that they're leaving the violent crime impact team in place, even though it was only supposed to last for six months.

Crime is not over; Tulsa had a shooting just this weekend, but authorities say Tulsa has had some of the best results from all 15 cities chose for VCIT teams.
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