Violent Crimes Task Force puts more criminals in cuffs

Violent Crimes Task Force puts more criminals in cuffs

YAKIMA, Wash. -- Fighting crime can be a challenge for law enforcement while strapped with tighter budgets and smaller staffs. Despite that challenge, Action News learned hundreds of suspected violent criminals were taken off the streets in 2012.

Part of that is thanks to the partnership behind the Violent Crimes Task Force. It's made up of officers from YPD, the Yakima County Sheriffs Office, the Department of Corrections and the U.S. Marshal Service.

They're a bad guys worst nightmare. You could call them the keeper of the cuffs.

The Violent Crimes Task Force acts as a third arm to agencies in the Yakima Valley overloaded with criminal cases.

"We are short officers and that kind of thing, but I think they're trying," said Gabby Schweers who works in Yakima.

Police departments like Union Gap, Wapato and Yakima do the bulk of all investigations, but officers can't always wait around for probable cause.

That's where the Violent Crimes Task Force steps in.

It's detectives take the reins and make the arrest.

The joint effort keeps criminals off your streets.

"I think it's great that they found they need this kind of task force to do the work," Schweers said.

Just last month officers with the task force arrested Jonathon Voss. He's a convicted felon from Pierce County who took shelter in Yakima. Detectives say they found Voss hiding in a hole he dug in a garage on 19th Avenue.

He's one of more than 300 violent offenders hauled in by the Violent Crimes Task Force in 2012.

"Yakima has had a bad reputation for a while not that it's one of those places where crime is fairly high," she said.

The task force hopes to continue changing that reputation in 2013.

YPD assigned an additional officer to the force. Something that might give criminals nightmares -- but neighbors peace of mind.

It's hard to tell how many violent offenders arrested were actually convicted and sit behind bars.

However, Yakima County court administrators tell us offenders arrested by the task force, typically get the harshest sentences.