A new trend in crime-fighting is taking shape in New Jersey, one that features a rather unique partnership.

According to New Jersey FBI Supervisory Special Agent Mike Ratta, the Bureau has stepped up efforts to recruit officers from local police departments across the Garden State to join a number of different anti-crime task forces.

He said teaming up in this way enhances collaboration and intelligence sharing and allows law enforcement officials to more effectively bring down sophisticated criminal enterprises operating in their part of the Garden State, because “federal statutes generally have longer prison sentences for violent crimes and drug crimes as well.”

Special Agent Ratta said when a local officer joins a task force for at least 2 years, his or her local police department will benefit in a number of ways.

It's a benefit

“Our informants, our intelligence reports, our databases, these are all things that will assist a local police department, and more importantly is the access to FBI resources, equipment, training,” he said.

He noted the FBI will still work with local police departments on a variety of cases even if one of their officers is not also serving on a task force “but when they are fully embedded sitting on our task force, we are making significant strides in our fight against violent crime, our fight against gang violence and drug trafficking as well.”

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He explained when a local police officer is sworn in as a federal task force officer they remain part of their local police department, fighting crime in their community.

They're still local cops

“We don’t want the officers disappearing from the police department, their value is in identifying these types of trends, bringing them to us, and then us figuring out how can we help our partners.”

He said when an officer from a local police force joins a task force there is a discussion with their Police Chief about “what are we going to be focused on, what’s important to that Chief in his community as well, cause we’ll focus on issues that might be very important to him because he’s giving us a task force officer.”

He said that means the FBI will assist local police with surveillance, technical support and even funding to be able to effectively make a case against a criminal group, even though the case may not be federal.

Local officers that serve on an FBI task force are put through a multi-week training period and then go to work as equal partners.

“They are fully integrated case detectives running their own investigations alongside our FBI agents and under the guidance of the task force commanders,” said Special Agent Ratta.

He added when a local police officer serves on an FBI task force “we will give them the tools and training necessary to be an even better investigator, and to bring those tools, contacts and networking back to his or her police department when they eventually go back.”

These guys are good

He stressed “there’s no shortage of talented detectives that are constantly reaching out, working cases collaboratively with us, what we’re trying to do now is to bring them on full-time as task force officers.”

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He said this effort has been accelerating for years.

“We are continuing to try and do that and bring on local detectives to help us in our fight against drugs, violent crime, terrorism.”

Police chiefs and officers can get more information about the program by visiting NK_Taskforce@fbi.gov.

David Matthau is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at david.matthau@townsquaremedia.com

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