The federal government and law enforcement agencies in Linn County are working together to stop the spread of violent crimes. There was a drop in overall crime in Cedar Rapids last year, but there was an uptick in the number of violent crimes related to gangs and guns.
That prompted the Cedar Rapids Police Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and a handful of other law enforcement agencies to put together a safe streets task force. Northern District U.S. Attorney , Stephanie Rose, says gang violence is not as bad in Iowa as it is in other states. However, Rose says the special task force is still needed to prevent violence from spreading.
“What often happens is people come into a community and they are sort of classified as gang wanna-be’s and then they become gang-really be’s, and eventually they become the source for all the gang members who are really truly violent gang members back in their home cities to come here and start over in our new communities,” Rose explains.
The F.B.I. created the Safe Streets program about twenty years ago to help local law enforcement root out gang and gun violence. Cedar Rapids Police Chief, Greg Graham, says the number of violent crimes increased last year and that’s why the Safe Streets program was launched in Linn County.
Graham says,” We’re being very strategic, working with the community and with each other to try to get the right people off the streets and I’m very pleased with where we’re at today however I’m not satisfied that we’re done. We’ve still got a lot of work to do.” F.B.I. Special Agent, Weysan Dunn, says Safe Streets has been used in Iowa before but Linn County has the only active program. Dunn says gang violence is unique in Iowa because the majority of problems come from other states.
“Most of our most serious gang problems emanate from individuals who have come here from other, larger metropolitan areas and established roots to some degree, ” Dunn says. He says there has been an overall rise in gang and gun violence throughout the country. The collaboration with the F.B.I. allows federal funding to be used for overtime, equipment, and transportation costs.