DC Safe Surrender 2011 – An Interview with US Marshal Thomas Hedgepeth

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Radio Program available at http://media.csosa.gov/podcast/audio/2011/07/dc-safe-surrender-2011-an-interview-with-us-marshal-hedgepeth/

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[Audio Begins]

Cedric Hendricks: This is Cedric Hendricks for DC Public Safety.  With us today is US Marshal, Thomas Hedgepeth, who will talk with us about DC Safe Surrender.  Marshal Hedgepeth, what is DC Safe Surrender?

Marshal Thomas Hedgepeth:  DC Safe Surrender is an opportunity for persons who within our community, who have outstanding warrants of judiciary issues that have not been addressed, an opportunity to come in a safe haven type environment, to come in and address these issues in a non-confrontational way that’s beneficial both to the community as well as the defendant and/or respondents.

Cedric Hendricks:  Now how is it beneficial?  Can you be a bit specific there?

Marshal Thomas Hedgepeth:  It is extremely beneficial from the standpoint, first of all from a law enforcement perspective, it allows the police to focus on more violent crimes and it doesn’t take away from community and public policing.  This allows us to focus on other criminal elements at large.  It allows us to keep those resources free while allowing other people to come in and voluntarily, of their own free will, and address their issues that are outstanding within the court.  It promotes efficiency within the court system and allows us to marshal our resources on keeping the violent offenders off the streets.

Cedric Hendricks:  Now this safe surrender has been a national initiative of the United States Marshal Service.  How successful has it been across the country?

Marshal Thomas Hedgepeth:  Cedric, it’s been an extremely successful initiative.  We’ve had over 27,000 persons who participated in a program.  We have hundreds of success stories have come.  And they’ve had a chance now to address those issues that have been outstanding for perhaps weeks, months or years.  It gives them the satisfaction of knowing they’ve dealt with an issue.  They no longer have to look behind their back, look over their head every time an issue comes up.  It gives them an opportunity to move forward with their lives and it frees up the court docket from dealing with the issue in the future so we can go and address future needs of the community and the citizens for the district or any other community that we’re involved in.

Cedric Hendricks:  Now Safe Surrender was done back in 2007 here in the District of Columbia and it was a truly collaborative project.  And it involved the Marshal Service, the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency, the Parole Commission, the courts.  Why is this type of collaboration essential to make this an extremely successful event?

Marshal Thomas Hedgepeth:  It is absolutely essential.   This is a partnership.  The courts, public defenders service, the Marshal, the Attorney’s office, Metropolitan Police Department, we all have one common goal and that’s to keep our city streets safe.  We want every citizen to walk the street and feel comfortable walking the street.  And the way we do that is through a collaborative effort.  It gives us a chance to marshal our resources, as well like to say it, have the most bang for our buck.

Cedric Hendricks:  Now

Marshal Thomas Hedgepeth:  It really gives an opportunity to stretch your arms out and touch a lot more people.

Cedric Hendricks:  Now I understand back in 2007, about 530 individuals surrendered.  Do you have a goal for this Safe Surrender experience?  Are we looking for more people to turn themselves in or not?

Marshal Thomas Hedgepeth:  Actually for this one, our goals are a bit less modest.  We’re actually hoping to get a few hundred people to turn themselves in.  We’ve had a couple of warrant initiatives that we’ve actually had the opportunity to go out and do over the past couple of months.  And we have one or two more scheduled for the year.  And of course, our goal is to focus on violent offenders during those initiatives and this gives an opportunity for us to focus on those as well as for other people to come in, do the right thing, get these issues resolved so that when we come knocking, we won’t be knocking on their doors.

Cedric Hendricks:  Now I understand that the Safe Surrender Program is targeting folks with non-violent felonies, misdemeanor warrants and does not include violent felonies or domestic violence warrants.  Why is that the case?

Marshal Thomas Hedgepeth:  Well Cedric, actually the primary reason is because we target that audience because unfortunately people may not realize, but the vast majority of our warrants are non-violent offenders.  I mean while violent offenders may get a higher amount of press play, in effect, most of our citizens who get involved within the legal system are brought in for non-violent offenses.

Cedric Hendricks:  Now when and where will DC Safe Surrender take place?

Marshal Thomas Hedgepeth:  It’s going to take place August 13, 20, and 27 of this year.  And it’s going to be held at the courthouse.  And what it’s going to afford is the people to come in, speak to lawyers, counselors, the judges and address their issues, get those issues resolved, be given future court dates to come back if it can’t be resolved that day.  And we’re looking for a really wonderful turnout and a very, very successful event this time around.

Cedric Hendricks:  Well, I want to thank you.  We’ve been talking with US Marshal Thomas Hedgepeth about DC Safe Surrender.

Marshal Thomas Hedgepeth:  Thank you very much.

Cedric Hendricks:  Thank you sir.

[Audio Ends]

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