Police in Gulfport and beyond are facing a startling reality. The rate of violent crimes and drug crimes has risen sharply in the past year. Agencies report that a recent series of fatal shootings in the city has heightened police awareness that they need to do more to prevent such crimes and prosecute those who commit them. These efforts have included public awareness rallies, community involvement and neighborhood watches. However, the consequences for those convicted of such crimes may be even more severe.
Many Mississippi police departments are teaming with federal agencies, such as the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, to investigate and prosecute drug crimes and weapons offenses. By partnering with these agencies, police can ensure the suspects they arrest will face charges at the federal level instead of only at the state level. Charging suspects with federal crimes means they face the following:
- A more complex criminal justice procedure in federal courts than in state courts
- Federal mandatory minimum sentencing if convicted
- More severe sentencing than they would face at the hands of state courts
- Prison time in a federal facility instead of a local jail if convicted
While officers intend to continue attempting to foster relationships with juveniles and others in the community, those relationships may be short-lived when a crime occurs. Police admit that they target certain individuals whom they suspect are involved in the drug trade or weapons offenses. This may create a challenge for those who then must defend themselves against criminal charges in federal court.