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U.S. Marshals Service

Fugitive Safe Surrender

Detroit, Michigan – June 4-7, 2008

Fugitive Safe Surrender in the Detroit/Wayne County area took place in early June 2008, under the leadership of Robert M. Grubbs, United States Marshal for the Eastern District of Michigan. Over the course of the four-day surrender period, more than 6,500 individuals with outstanding warrants took the opportunity to surrender to law enforcement and help pave the way for a more successful future.  As a result of an extensive media and public outreach campaign, thousands of people attempted to take advantage of the program, with many standing in line for hours waiting for the gates to open, and many more waiting even longer for processing, warrant checks, and a chance to see a judge.  Fugitive Safe Surrender – Detroit was the ninth operation, and turnout far surpassed all expectations.

With an estimated backlog of over 30,000 outstanding warrants in the city of Detroit and Wayne County, the Marshals Service was eager to bring this initiative to Detroit.  For over a year, Marshal Grubbs coordinated with local civic and law enforcement leaders to lay the groundwork to make Fugitive Safe Surrender - Detroit a reality.  At the conclusion of the operation, the Marshal expressed his appreciation for the program’s main partner, saying that “this initiative could not have happened without the cooperation and assistance of Dr. Edgar L. Vann, Pastor of Second Ebenezer Church, who offered the use of his beautiful and newly constructed facility.

Conceived of by Peter J. Elliott, United States Marshal for the Northern District of Ohio, after the death of Cleveland Police Officer Wayne Leon at the hands of a wanted fugitive, Fugitive Safe Surrender is a powerful and popular initiative that encourages persons wanted for felony or misdemeanor crimes to voluntarily surrender to the law in a faith-based location.  The program now has been adopted as a national USMS-sponsored initiative.

The doors of Second Ebenezer Church opened at 9:00 a.m. on Wednesday, June 4th, and for four straight days, individuals wanted for a variety of offenses waited and eagerly anticipated their turn to take a first step at a second chance.  Assisted by local advertising and a word-of-mouth campaign organized by Pastor Vann, Marshal Grubbs, U.S. Attorney Stephen J. Murphy, and other community leaders, as well as news items on television and in the print media, more than 1,000 individuals presented themselves each day for adjudication of their outstanding warrants.

The large numbers of individuals who attempted to surrender caused Marshals Service organizers, court officials, and the judiciary to develop alternative processing procedures.  The turnout was so overwhelming that it became necessary to close the gates by late morning.  Although there were five courtrooms in operation each day, the sheer volume of cases presented was larger than what could be accommodated by the judiciary and court personnel.  As a result, individuals who had misdemeanor warrants were given vouchers with instructions to contact the city’s district court to schedule a later court date, with the understanding that if they followed through and returned to court, they would be offered the same “favorable consideration” as if they had seen a judge at the church.  The Marshals Service is assisting the 36th District Court in authenticating those vouchers and arranging future court dates and posted a mobile command center at the courthouse to expedite the processing.

Preliminary results showed that approximately 6,570 individuals surrendered over the program’s four days.  Approximately 2,700 were processed inside the church, including approximately 340 parole or probation violators.  Another 3,800 were processed at mobile units posted in the church parking lot, with approximately 3,200 of those receiving vouchers.  Approximately 750 (or 11%) of the people who appeared at the church found that they had no active warrants against them, further illustrating the benefit of the program.  Those individuals can now move forward in their lives and become productive members of society by obtaining driver’s licenses, and finding meaningful employment.  In all, it is estimated that more than 11,000 warrants were cleared, including at least 165 felony warrants.  Only three individuals were arrested.

In addition to Pastor Vann and the leadership of Second Ebenezer Church, key partners in Fugitive Safe Surrender – Detroit included The Honorable William J. Giovan, Chief Judge of the Third Judicial Circuit Court of Michigan; The Honorable Marylin E. Atkins, Chief Judge of Michigan’s 36th District Court; and J. Otis Davis, Court Administrator of Michigan’s 36th District Court.  Legal team partners included Stephen J. Murphy, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, Prosecuting Attorney Kym L. Worthy of the Wayne County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, and Donald L. Johnson, Chief Counsel of the State Defender’s Office, as well as the Office of the Mayor.

Frontline law enforcement partners included Chief Ella M. Bully Cummings, Detroit Police Department; Sheriff Warren C. Evans, Wayne County Sheriff’s Office; Captain Annemarie H. Gibson, Michigan State Police; and Dinah Moore, Regional Administrator for the Michigan Department of Corrections.

Waiting for processing at Second Ebenezer Church, Detroit
Waiting for processing at Second Ebenezer Church, Detroit.

 

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