Operation FALCON makes arrests in county

Published 4:34 pm Thursday, July 9, 2009

Local, state and federal law enforcement agencies gathered at the Federal Reserve Bank in Birmingham Thursday to announce the results of Operation FALCON, a weeklong initiative aimed at apprehending violent fugitives in Jefferson, Shelby and Walker counties.

Led by the U.S. Marshals Service and the Gulf Coast Regional Task Force, Operation FALCON — which stands for Federal And Local Cops Organized Nationally — netted 218 arrests, said U.S. Marshal C. Martin Keely, who represents the Northern District of Alabama. Approximately 300 warrants were cleared in Jefferson and Shelby counties as a result. The operation began June 22 and ended June 28.

More than 100 state and local officers were sworn in as special deputy marshals to launch the operation. The officers were divided into teams, briefed on fugitive cases and assigned arrest warrants for crimes of violence, narcotics and sex offenses.

“By combining the resources, skills, experience and abilities of law enforcement at the federal, state and local levels, a beneficial force-multiplying effect is achieved,” Keely said. “In this effort, the talons of FALCON have hit their mark, and once again turned predators into prey.”

The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office and the Alabaster, Pelham and Hoover police departments were part of the operation. Sheriff Chris Curry said 18 arrests were made in the county during the initiative. In addition, 20 fugitives wanted in the county were located in another jurisdiction or were deceased, and four fugitives surrendered upon hearing about the operation. Four sheriff’s deputies participated in the effort.

“The citizens of this area are safer because of this joint operation,” Curry said. “These officers take the worst of the worst off the street and every bad guy they ran into went to jail.”

Pelham Police Chief Tommy Thomas said his department joined Operation FALCON this year. The initiative began in 2005.

“This operation helps us because none of has the resources to do the job by ourselves,” Thomas said. “With this collaboration, you’re able to bring all resources together to track (suspects) down, and each agency brings its own expertise.”

Keely said suspects arrested during the operation were wanted for murder, assault, sexual offenses, robbery, narcotics, property of theft and probation violations. Many arrests resulted in additional charges for illegal weapons and drug violations. Keely also noted officers verified the locations of 1,000 sex offenders in Jefferson and Shelby counties. If the sex offenders were not residing at their registered address, an arrest warrant was issued.

“The cooperation and enthusiasm of law enforcement fostered during this Operation will continue after FALCON folds its wings,” Keely said. “Through this cooperation we will not rest in our pursuit of violent fugitives.”