Ted Simons: IT'S CALLED OPERATION FALCON, AND IT LED TO THE CAPTURE OF OVER 35,000 FUGITIVES AROUND THE COUNTRY, WITH OVER 600 BEING ARRESTED HERE IN ARIZONA. OPERATION FALCON IS A NATIONWIDE EFFORT HEADED BY THE U.S. MARSHAL'S SERVICE, AND INCLUDES STATE AND LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES. IN THE MOST RECENT FUGITIVE SWEEP, THE ARIZONA DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY'S VIOLENT CRIMINAL APPREHENSION TEAM TOOK PART. THE TEAM, ALSO KNOWN AS V-CAT TARGETS DANGEROUS FUGITIVES. HERE TO TALK ABOUT V-CAT AND OPERATION FALCON IS DPS DIRECTOR ROGER VANDERPOOL. Good to have you here. Thanks for joining us.
Roger Vanderpool: Thank you. It's good to be here.
Ted Simons: Who are we targeting? Is this the worse of the worst that operation falcon is or was looking for? We try to target the individuals who are warrants that have hurt people. So crimes against the person are the ones we try to go after the most.
>> And V-Cat, talk about how that played into operation.
Roger Vanderpool: V-Cat was formed in may of 2008 and it's the D.P.S. violent criminal apprehension team or fugitive squad. There's two squads, nine officers and two sergeants that make that up on a full-time basis but then we partner with agencies across the state, 85 different agencies across the state on an ad hoc basis of when there is known fugitives in their communities to help us find those individuals and bring them to justice.
Ted Simons: And the collaboration I'm sure involving finding the folks, picking them up and getting them in custody. There's a lot before that happens, isn't there?
Roger Vanderpool: That's where most of the work really takes place and that's the work of the endless to be the cyber detectives to put together packages for the detectives, the V-Cat detectives so they will be much more successful than just going out and trying to knock on doors and find an individual.
Ted Simons: Operation falcon obviously a big operation. After it's over, what kind of collaboration exists around the state specifically to catch these folks?
Roger Vanderpool: There's still collaboration going on. The V-Cat detectives along with the Marshals wanted the program which their officers and deputy U.S. Marshals are looking everyday for fugitives and working with our law enforcement community throughout Arizona and our law enforcement partners in Mexico to hunt down wanted felons.
Ted Simons: Talk about that cooperation with Mexican law enforcement, how much does that play into an operation falcon or what V-Cat does?
Roger Vanderpool: On an everyday basis, it plays into it a lot. We have a strong relationship especially with foreign state police and we have border liaison officers that work with them. You know, Mexican government and Mexican law enforcement has enough of their own bad guys. Mexico is not a safe haven for fugitives from the United States to go down there. We supply the Mexican law enforcement authorities with information. If they can find them, they return them.
Ted Simons: That information is reciprocal?
Roger Vanderpool: Yes, it is. We have arrested especially with the Marshal service and partnership with the Marshal service wanted felons from Mexico that are here in Arizona and have returned those to Mexico.
Ted Simons: As far as working with law enforcement agencies around the state and we hear a lot about outstanding fugitive warrants how many there are especially here in Maricopa county. How is that delineated? Who decides who goes after that bad guy in buckeye, for example?
Roger Vanderpool: I think everyone--when I say everyone, the entire law enforcement community in Arizona needs to be focused on it. I think you or any members of the public cares who arrests the bad guys as long as someone arrests them. It has to be a team effort. The criminal doesn't just stop at the city limits or the county line. It makes sense for a statewide effort combined with the Marshal's office to track these folks down.
Ted Simons: Are you happy so far with that collaboration?
Roger Vanderpool: Oh, it's great, yeah. The Arizona law enforcement community actually cooperates and plays better than anybody else in the United States.
Ted Simons: There's controversial about how much the sheriff's office should be going after these particular warrants and fugitives. Are you working with that office and how is the relationship?
Roger Vanderpool: The relationship has always been good with the sheriff's office. The sheriff's office was involved in operation falcon. They have I believe a deputy or maybe even more than a deputy assigned to the Marshals wanted task force. Then of course on a daily basis as deputies, officers, city officers go about their routine business, they are looking for fugitives. One of the things that operation falcon does is brings to the forefront the need for officers to on a contact or on a traffic stop to kind of look past the driver's license and maybe ask another question or run that individual to see if they are wanted.
Ted Simons: The V-Cat merger with the U.S. Marshal's service, relatively recently. I know some are suggesting it should have happened a long time ago. Why did it take so long for that particular relationship?
Roger Vanderpool: It didn't take a long time as far as we are concerned, you know, we formed V-Cat in may of '08. V-Cat kind of spun out from a task force started prior to the Super bowl when we were crunching the gang database against the wanted database to find out what gang members in Arizona had outstanding felony warrants so we could go after them. That was a spinoff into the standard of V-Cat. In comparing notes and the things we are going to account on the Marshals and what we are doing and what the marshals are doing it made sense to collaborate and join forces.
Ted Simons: Thank you for joining us.