Local law enforcement officials are pleased to hear that the US Attorney’s Office is pursuing more aggressive measures to prosecute violent crimes in the county.
The announcement comes after a steady increase in gun crimes across Jefferson County, including armed robbery, carjacking, criminals in possession of firearms, and those in possession of firearms in violent crimes, according to a U.S. Attorney General’s press release.
“To achieve its goal of eliminating gun violence in Jefferson County, EDTX (Eastern District of Texas) recently hired one of its chief prosecutors to coordinate efforts of local and federal law enforcement,” a US attorney’s statement said . “This senior attorney will also handle the resulting cases personally.”
Port Arthur Police Chief Tim Duriso said the department is filing some gun cases and this gives them the ability to file gun cases for law enforcement at the federal level.
“This gives up the possibility of influencing the violence committed by some perpetrators,” said Duriso.
Duriso added that PAPD has good relations with the prosecutor, the alcohol, tobacco, firearms and explosives bureau, and the US attorney general.
Andy Arnold, the Netherlands’ deputy chief of police, said they would welcome the U.S. prosecutor’s assistance in gun cases.
“They have helped us in a few cases and we are fortunate to have their help,” said Arnold.
Groves City Marshal Norman Reynolds Jr. said everything that can be done to proactively reduce gun violence in the community is a step in the right direction.
He also said the police recognize that the problem is everyone’s responsibility, not just law enforcement agencies, but also individuals, prosecutors and judges.
The community can help keep guns out of the hands of criminals by securing their weapons and leaving them in vehicles or by securing them in their homes.
Most of the crimes that the Groves Police investigate related to gun violence involve the use of stolen guns.
“It’s very rare for you to be the original gun owner,” Reynolds said. “While it is important to step up background checks, often it doesn’t really apply to violent shootings and so on.”
Reynolds reiterated that the US attorney’s aggressive approach to law enforcement is a step in the right direction.
Port Neches police chief Paul Lemoine said if US prosecutors become aggressive towards those who deal with firearms, the perpetrators will basically be removed from the streets.
In addition, the firearms used in the violent crimes were most likely not purchased from a licensed arms dealer.
If there is an increase in car thefts, as it did just a few months ago, these weapons will ultimately be used for violent crimes. The only thing that’s effective is getting the criminals off the streets, Lemoine said
PNPD has worked with US prosecutors in the past, he said.
According to the US Attorney’s Office, the new initiative has already yielded results. On Monday, 23-year-old Derrick Gloude of Beaumont appeared before US Judge Keith Giblin for robbery under the Hobbs Act and brandishing a gun in a violent crime.
Gloude is charged with robbing seven different shops in Beaumont at gunpoint with a purple gun from November 9-16, 2020. He has been held in federal custody pending trial. Earlier this month, Beaumont-born Tremaurice Arthur Randall, 24, was sentenced to 114 months in prison for stealing and brandishing a gun during a violent crime.
“An aggressive approach to fighting violent crime is and remains a priority for both the Justice Department and the Eastern District of Texas,” said US attorney Stephen Cox. “If you are a criminal in possession of a firearm, or if you are using a firearm to commit a violent crime, our office will use all resources available to bring you to justice.”
This initiative is part of Project Guardian, the Department of Justice’s signature initiative to reduce gun violence and enforce federal firearms laws.
Project Guardian was initiated by the Attorney General in Fall 2019 and builds on the Department’s successful gun violence reduction programs. Improves coordination of federal, state, local and tribal agencies in investigating and prosecuting gun crimes; Improves the exchange of information by the Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Bureau when a Prohibited Person attempts to buy a firearm and is rejected by the National Immediate Criminal Background System (NICS), including appropriate action if a potential buyer rejected by the NICS on grounds of mental health; and ensures that federal funds are directed to the criminals who pose the greatest threat to our communities.