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Operation City Surge: Officials address violence in Chester

District Attorney Jack Whelan announced plans to launch a comprehensive, collaborative law enforcement operation to address the violence that has long been plaguing the City of Chester. Bringing together an unprecedented collaboration of agencies, Operation City Surge will flood the city with man-power and resources from local, state and federal agencies in an effort to quell violence in Chester. Authorities believe the surge of law enforcement agencies will be a force multiplier to local police in their efforts to protect the residents of Chester.

“Our goal is to implement new, aggressive strategies to address violence in a comprehensive way to reduce access to illegal weapons and significantly cut down violence,” said District Attorney Jack Whelan. “In response to rising violent and drug-related crime we are seeing in Chester, law enforcement will target specific high-crime problem areas with a geographically targeted police crackdown across the city."

In an effort to take some of Chester’s most violent offenders of the streets, the operation was launched with an early morning law enforcement operation that resulted in the arrest of 10 fugitives with outstanding arrest warrants and probation violations. Led by the District Attorney’s Criminal Investigation Division (CID), law enforcement officers from the Chester Police Department, United States Marshals Service, Delaware County Narcotics Task Force, and Delaware County Sheriffs conducted warrant sweeps across the city starting at 6:00 am, with operations wrapping up within three hours.  Suspects were identified by Delaware County Probation and Parole as individuals wanted for violent crimes. Other suspects include those wanted by the Delaware County Narcotics Task Force and those who have been identified as the major source of violence in crime “hot spot” areas of the city.

While warrant executions are a routine operation conducted by local police, this collaborative, large-scale sweep comes in response to the rise in homicides and shootings in Chester. The homicide rate in Chester has nearly doubled from this time last year, with 11 homicides in Chester and a total of 16 county-wide. In 2013, there were a total of 100 shooting victims in Chester. As of early May 2014, there have been more than 40 shooting victims in Chester.

As part of the comprehensive plan, the efforts of the Chester Police will be augmented by aggressive patrols from the Pennsylvania State Police, who will begin patrolling the streets of Chester. Additionally, SEPTA Transit Police have agreed to add patrols along public transit routes and stations and into the community. Officials plan to integrate SEPTA’s video system into intelligence collection and prosecution.

In partnership the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office and Probation and Parole, authorities will continue to conduct city-wide warrant sweeps of dangerous offenders throughout the summer months, with assistance from state and federal officers, with the District Attorney's Narcotics Task Force targeting open air drug markets and street corner dealers.

Additionally, District Attorney Jack Whelan has committed the aggressive investigation and prosecution of sale and transfers of illegal weapons, with the enforcement of minimum mandatory sentences for arrests, with the goal to discourage people from purchasing firearms and placing them in the hands of dangerous criminals.

District Attorney Jack Whelan held a press conference with state, local and federal officials to announce plans to address violence in Chester

Among those joining Whelan in Delaware County Council chambers were: Chester Mayor John Linder and Chester Police Commissioner Joseph Bail Jr.; U.S. Attorney Zane Memeger; ATF Special Agent-in-Charge Sam Rabadi; FBI Assistant Special Agent-in-Charge Christian Zajac; Chief Deputy U.S. Marshal John Patrignani; Pennsylvania State Police Lt. Anthony Sivo; SEPTA Transit Police Chief Thomas Nestel; Delaware County Criminal Investigation Division Chief Joseph Ryan and Sheriff Mary McFall Hopper