Violent crime impact teams formed by the U.S. Justice Department to work in 15 major cities seem to have been successful, says Attorney General John Ashcroft. The departing Ashcroft told the International Association of Chiefs of Police, meeting in Los Angeles, that the teams have arrested more than 2,700 suspects and seized 2,500 firearms in their six months on duty, reports Ted Gest for Crime & Justice News. Ashcroft did not provide crime report data for the 15 cities involved, but he said that one of them had experienced a 23 percent decline in homicides. Ashcroft claimed success in dismantling 14 of the top 50 international narcotics organizations. The Attorney General got applause from the audeince by criticizing the New York Times for reporting last week that despite a drop in crime, the number of prisoners in the U.S. had increased. Ashcroft said the Times did not acknowledge that while in prison, criminals “do fewer gun crimes.” The Justice Department has increased federal prosecution of gun crimes by 76 percent in recent years, Ashcroft said.
New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, also speaking to the IACP, warned of “lone wolf terrorists” that could endanger communities of any size. Kelly said that law enforcers are “equally alarmed” about lone wolves as they are with the prospect of an Al Qaeda attack on major population centers. He described the case last summer of the young Muslim in New York City who was plotting to blow up the subway station at Herald Square, near Madison Square Garden, site of the Republican National Convetnion. Kelly said that although the man did not seem capable of following through with the threat. At that time, police worried that he would start randomly shooting subway passengers. The lone wolf, Kelly said, is “the most unpredictable (terror) threat who could emerge literally anywhere.”