WASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today urged the U.S. Marshals Service to reverse their plans to eliminate the Fugitive Safe Surrender (FSS) program, a federal program administered by the U.S. Department of Justice that allows individuals wanted for non-violent felony or misdemeanor crimes to voluntarily surrender to the law in a safe and non-violent environment.
“Fugitive Safe Surrender is a pioneering, made-in-Ohio program with a long and successful track record. Thanks to Marshal Peter Elliott’s work, this program is now a national success story. It’s a prime example of how law enforcement officials can work together with the local community to create a safer environment for everyone,” Brown said. “There is bipartisan support for this program. Attorney General DeWine has also pledged to preserve the Fugitive Safe Surrender program, because he knows how important it is for the safety of Ohio’s law enforcement officers—and I will work with him to make sure this important program remains intact.”
In a letter to Director of the U.S. Marshals Service, Stacia Hylton, Brown contended that FSS was an innovative and effective program that should be preserved and enhanced, rather than cancelled. Fugitive Safe Surrender was developed by Cleveland-based U.S. Marshal Peter Elliott in 2004.
“FSS is a program worthy of placing on the priority list for the U.S. Marshals Service…There is no price that can be placed on enabling law enforcement officials to return home to their families safely after serving in the line of duty,” Brown wrote. “On behalf of the nation’s law enforcement officials and their families, I strongly urge you to reinstate the Fugitive Safe Surrender program.”
The goal of Fugitive Safe Surrender is to reduce the risk to law enforcement officers who pursue fugitives, to the neighborhoods in which they hide, and to the fugitives themselves.
Brown visited a Fugitive Safe Surrender site at the historic Mt. Zion Church in Oakwood in September 2010. On the first day of that FSS event, more than 800 people voluntarily surrendered—a record turnout for the program. Brown has been a strong supporter of the Fugitive Safe Surrender program since its inception, and joined the late Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones in support of federal legislation authorizing funding for FSS. Over the life of the program nearly 35,000 individuals have voluntarily surrendered nationwide.
The full text of the letter is below.
March 9, 2011
U.S. Marshals Service
2604 Jefferson Davis Highway
Alexandria, VA 22301
Dear Director Hylton:
I am writing to urge you to reconsider your decision to end the Fugitive Safe Surrender (FSS) program, as reported by the Cleveland Plain Dealer on Sunday, March 6, 2011.
As you may be aware, this program was born out of tragedy. More than a decade ago Cleveland Police Officer Wayne Leon was brutally murdered by Quisi Bryant, a fugitive who Officer Leon had stopped on Cleveland’s East Side. According to the Plain Dealer, Mr. Bryant had an outstanding arrest warrant for a parole violation. Had there been an FSS program at the time, it is possible that such a horrible incident could have been avoided.
Four years after the death of Officer Leon, U.S. Marshal Pete Elliott crafted his vision for a program that would utilize the power and reach of the faith community to enable fugitives to surrender without incident. The first FSS event was held at Mount Sinai Church in Cleveland in 2005 and resulted in the peaceful surrender of 838 persons. The following year Congress enacted legislation creating a nationwide FSS program, which has led to the voluntary surrender of nearly 35,000 individuals—more than 7,400 in Cleveland alone in 2010. Nationwide, ten percent of the fugitives who have voluntarily surrendered had outstanding felony warrants.
As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I certainly understand the importance of prioritizing amid limited budgets. However, FSS is a program worthy of placing on the priority list for the U.S. Marshals Service. It is rare indeed when so many different stakeholders--judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, probation officers, court clerks, police, and members of the clergy--can all work together for a common cause that can save lives. There is no price that can be placed on enabling law enforcement officials to return home to their families safely after serving in the line of duty.
On behalf of the nation’s law enforcement officials and their families, I strongly urge you to reinstate the Fugitive Safe Surrender program.
United States Senator