The FBI's Violent Crimes and Major Offenders Program

Article excerpt

In June 1989, the FBI added crimes of violence to its list of national priorities. With this designation, the FBI devoted more resources to the investigation of violent crime. It also expanded cooperative efforts with State and local law enforcement, as well as other Federal law enforcement agencies, in an effort to reduce the increasing rate of violent crime.

Accordingly, on June 21, 1989, the FBI established the Violent Crimes and Major Offenders Program (VCMOP) by consolidating several related investigative efforts into one priority program. This reorganization enhanced the Bureau's ability to assist other agencies in combating violent crime. It also reflected the alarming nationwide increase in these types of crimes. Indeed, Uniform Crime Reports (UCRI figures for 1990 revealed the rate of violent crime for that year increased by more than 10 percent over 1989 figures. (1)

To combat the wide range of violent criminal activity effectively, the VCMOP was designated wide-ranging investigative responsibilities. While various FBI investigative units continue to handle crimes of violence--cases investigated within the Drug or Organized Crime Programs, for example, often involve elements of violence--the VCMOP devotes its resources exclusively to the growing problem of violent crime.

Four subprograms comprise the VCMOP. Each subprogram focuses upon specific aspects of violent criminal activity.

Violent Crimes Subprogram

The primary objective of the Violent Crimes Subprogram (VCSP) is to preserve human life through the prompt and effective investigation of violent crimes. Violent crimes that fall within the jurisdiction of the FBI include assassinations, kidnapings, assaults, or threats against Federal law enforcement officers and high government officials (including some family members of these officials), crimes aboard aircraft, extortions, kidnapings (general), consumer product tampering, thefts of controlled substances, drug-related homicides, bank robbery, interstate transportation of obscene matter, sexual exploitation of children, interstate transportation in aid of racketeering (ITAR), and a number of other violations wherein crimes against a person are an element.

Through aggressive enforcement of the laws and statutes governing these crimes, the goal of the VCSP is to reduce the impact of all violent criminal activity. For example, through vigorous enforcement of ITAR regulations, special agents operating within the Violent Crimes Subprogram investigate the broad range of crime problems associated with gang activity, including homicide, drug trafficking, and intimidation.

Fugitive Subprogram

The focus of the Fugitive Subprogram centers on the apprehension of State and local fugitives who travel across State lines to avoid either prosecution or confinement. This subprogram was established to reduce crime rates, particularly those of violent offenses, by assisting State and local law enforcement agencies in apprehending criminals who flee prosecution, either interstate or internationally. The subprogram places primary emphasis on the apprehension of fugitives sought for serious or violent criminal acts, as well as those engaged in large-scale drug trafficking. In addition, the Fugitive Subprogram coordinates fugitive policy regarding all fugitives in substantive FBI investigations. Through this subprogram, the FBI also assists in the investigation of certain military desertions where aggravated circumstances exist. …