MCSO forms team to track fugitives & tackle 31,000 unserved felony warrants

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(3TV/CBS 5) -

A special team within the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office has been working to locate and arrest people wanted on felony warrants. The Fugitive Apprehension Tactical Enforcement (FATE) team includes nine investigators working full-time to track down wanted individuals.

Right now there are more than 31,000 unserved felony warrants in Maricopa County. The warrants are issued by various jurisdictions including Phoenix, Glendale, Mesa, and Scottsdale, but it’s up to MCSO to track down the criminals.

FATE was formed shortly after Sheriff Paul Penzone took office as part of a campaign promise to make fugitive apprehension a priority. So far nearly 250 fugitives have been located and arrested by the FATE team.

The number of unserved felony warrants has risen in recent years from more than 27,000 in 2015 to more than 31,000 as of June 1, 2018.

“We look for the worst of the worst,” says Chief Deputy, Russ Skinner. “We want to get them off the street first.”

Skinner says locating certain fugitives can be challenging.

“Sometimes these criminals move on to different areas so it may be a little more challenging,” says Skinner. "We may have to invest more time and resources.”

When it comes to preventing officer-involved shootings, taking violent fugitives off the streets may be one piece of the puzzle.  This week Phoenix Police Chief, Jeri Williams, asked the city council to consider approving a study to find out why the number of officer-involved shootings in the City of Phoenix is so high. 

Skinner believes dangerous and even deadly confrontations with police can be sparked for a number of reasons.

“Obviously, there are some mental issues that may be going on, drug issues that may be going on,” says Skinner.

Skinner says FATE also works with the Federal Bureau of Investigations as well as other law enforcement partnerships.

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