Can tip line help cut crime in Rutland? - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Can tip line help cut crime in Rutland?

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Chief James Baker Chief James Baker
Craig Nolan Craig Nolan
RUTLAND, Vt. -

Soon the streets of Rutland will be full of fliers from the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms. The ATF is offering substantial cash rewards for tips on gun and drug crimes in the city that lead to an arrest.

"Early in the calendar year of 2012 we had two or three instances where we had shots fired in the city," Rutland City Police Chief James Baker said.

And Baker says one of those shootings is still unsolved. Having the feds help with the growing drug and gun crime, he says, will prove to be an asset.

"We needed to start working on better ways to gather information, correlate info, vet info, analyze info and make sure we're sharing the information," Baker said.

The tip line is just the newest part of Operation Fed Up-- a collaboration among federal, state, and local authorities all who have their sights set on stopping drug and gun crime in the city.

"What we try to do is build up a base of knowledge about any threat that may be out there of people who are carrying guns, are involved in drug activity, so we can prevent a tragedy from happening," Baker said.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig Nolan says it's not uncommon for felons in other states with stricter laws to come to Vermont to purchase a firearm. And because of the lack of gun laws on the state level, authorities like city police have to rely on the feds for help.

Craig Nolan: So, federal gun laws prohibit drug dealers from carrying, possessing, using firearms.

Reporter Deanna LeBlanc: State laws don't?

Craig Nolan: They do not... there is no state law that pertains to drug and gun crimes.

And, he says, felons in possession of firearms are also often involved in the drug trade, which in Rutland is a growing problem.

"We have drug users and drug addicts who supply guns to drug dealers. They trade guns to drug dealers for guns. They buy guns at gun shops for drug dealers," Nolan said.

But, all those involved in operation FED-UP hope the new tip line and cash reward will give the public an incentive to join in the collaboration.

"Part of that is to re-engage the neighborhoods again in the conversation about sharing information with us and us sharing information with them and opening up that dialogue," Baker said.

From the feds to local neighbors-- a big collaboration to stop an even bigger problem.

In July, Operation FED-UP had its first big roundup-- 16 firearms were seized and more than 20 people were taken into custody which led to 10 arrests in September.

FED-UP program in Rutland
For more info on how to report a crime or submit a tip:
Operation FED-UP: 802-865-4016 -- http://blackpearl.wcax.com/documents/FEDUPposter.pdf
Rutland City Police tips -- www.tipsubmit.com/WebTips.aspx?AgencyID=925

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