PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

Local News

October 12, 2009

"System needed to be fixed"

Operation Time Machine aimed at reducing violent, drug crimes

PORT ARTHUR — Mark Blanton's crack down on gangs and gun violence promise has been solidified with the arrest and conviction of numerous criminals during his tenure as chief of police for the city of Port Arthur.

But sometimes criminals fell through the cracks in the justice system only to get out of jail and commit more crimes, some of which were even more violent that the previous incidents.

"My officers can arrest people all day long but unless those who are arrested are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, then the arrests are an exercise in futility," Blanton said.

Since 2005, Port Arthur has seen 26 murders committed with firearms. During the same period, more than one-third of the city’s 615 robberies were committed with firearms and overall citizen’s have reported more than 2, 500 shots fired, as stated by U.S. Attorney John Bales recently during a press conference in front of the police station.

“My officers are worn down by all of the hours they put in,” he said. “This is just another part of the system that needed to be fixed.”

The fix of the system was announced before a crowd of local and state law enforcement agents as well as local groups of citizens who volunteer their time keeping an eye on their neighborhoods.

The solution Blanton has been asking for is in the form of a new crime fighting tool called Operation Time Machine.

Time Machine pairs an assistant U.S. Attorney and a Jefferson County prosecutor cross designated as a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney, and embeds them with the Port Arthur Police Department. Together with the PAPD, these prosecutors with work closely with the Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; Drug Enforcement Agency; Federal Bureau of Investigation and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. The partnership's goal is to reduce gun and drug related violent crime in the city.

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