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Pataki and John Walsh Launch New York State's 100 Most Wanted Fugitives Campaign

"For more than six months, the 100 Most Wanted Program has been empowering New Yorkers to be proactive in keeping dangerous criminals off the street"

New York Governor George E. Pataki joined "America's Most Wanted" host John Walsh last month to launch an advertising campaign for New York State's 100 Most Wanted Program, which targets the 100 most dangerous fugitives in the state. The campaign was launched while the governor and Walsh toured the Operation SAFE CHILD ID Site at the Southwest Community Center in Syracuse.

Created to bring the most dangerous fugitives in New York State to justice, Project SAF-T (Statewide Anti-Fugitive Teams) and the 100 Most Wanted Program were designed to coordinate the resources of local, state and federal law enforcement agencies currently working to locate and apprehend dangerous felons. Thanks to the assistance of the New York State Broadcasters Association, public service announcements featuring 100 Most Wanted fugitives will begin to be aired in markets throughout New York State beginning next week.

"Government's greatest responsibility is to keep its citizens safe," Governor Pataki said. "And for more than six months, the 100 Most Wanted Program has been empowering New Yorkers to be proactive in keeping dangerous criminals off the street. Thanks to the eyes and ears of New Yorkers and hard working law enforcement officials, we have been returning these dangerous fugitives back where they belong -- behind bars."

"Since the launch of the 100 Most Wanted program in New York State," said Walsh, "we have apprehended 42 of these dangerous criminals. I encourage everyone to visit the 100 Most Wanted web site and ask that anyone who has information regarding the whereabouts of these fugitives call the tips line. Every one of us can help to make a difference in bringing justice to these dangerous felons."

Senator Dale Volker said, "As the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Criminal and Civil Codes for the past 19 years, I have never seen more proactive and innovative criminal justice programs that have been proven to protect the innocent and punish the law-breaker. Governor Pataki, working with the State Legislature, has made New York State one of the safest in the nation, with all major categories of crime at historical lows. This new law enforcement program will complement existing law enforcement initiatives, programs and policies, and I continue to appreciate the governor's commitment to tackling criminal behavior at every level."

Senator Nozzolio said, "Thanks to programs implemented by Governor Pataki, crime continues to decline in New York State. Project SAF-T and the 100 Most Wanted Fugitives Program continues the governor's efforts and I am proud to be his partner in giving law enforcement the tools to keep dangerous criminals off of New York's streets."

Senator David J. Valesky said, "There is nothing more important than the safety of our children. As a senator and parent I want to thank Gov. Pataki and John Walsh for their hard work bringing Operation SAFE CHILD to New York."

Assemblywoman Joan K. Christensen said, "Project SAF-T is designed to bring dangerous felons to justice through the collaboration of state, and local law enforcement as well as residents within New York State. I believe that we all deserve a safe community especially safe for our children."

New York State Director of Criminal Justice Chauncey G. Parker said, "This program was created by Governor Pataki to help create a coordinated strategy to apprehend the most dangerous fugitives through enhanced teamwork among existing federal, state and local fugitive apprehension efforts. The focal point of the strategy is a web site and tips line, which has already been successful in drawing the attention of local law enforcement and the general public to these 100 fugitives, who combined have committed more than 600 crimes."

Richard Novik, senior vice president/station client services of The New York State Broadcasters Association said, "The New York State Broadcasters Association is proud to play a role in this important initiative to make New York safer. I am confident that all of the television stations in the state will be of help by broadcasting these important messages. The television stations of New York state take their responsibility to serve the public interest seriously. This campaign is a perfect example of that."

Onondaga County Executive Nicholas J. Pirro said, "The efforts which the governor and his administration are taking across the state to rid our communities of dangerous criminals as well as being proactive in keeping our children safe are important strategies which benefit all of us and our families throughout New York State."

Onondaga County District Attorney William J. Fitzpatrick said, "Project SAF-T is just another example of Governor Pataki's continuing plan to use the collaborative efforts of state and local law enforcement to make New York a safer place to live. Project SAF-T is targeting bad guys who are fugitives from the law. This coordinated effort will take the worst of the worst criminals off the streets."

Syracuse Police Chief Gary W. Miguel said, "The Syracuse Police Department recognizes the Governor's 100 Most Wanted program as being an effective tool utilized to capture many of New York State's most dangerous criminals."

Onondaga County Sheriff Kevin Walsh said, "These two initiatives -- New York State's 100 Most Wanted Fugitives and Operation SAFE CHILD -- are two programs that will make an immense difference in ensuring the safety of all the state's citizens. The 100 Most Wanted list is going a long way for law enforcement in helping capture these dangerous criminals, while Operation SAFE CHILD will provide proactive measures for parents to help protect their children.

The Most Wanted web site allows any New Yorker to view these worst of the worst criminals and anonymously offer information about their whereabouts by calling the tips line, (800) 262-4321. To date, the Web site has received more than 500,000 hits and more than 100 leads have been called into the tips line.

Operation SAFE CHILD
Operation SAFE CHILD was created by Governor Pataki to raise awareness about child safety and to give parents another proactive tool to keep their children safe. Thirty-four percent of parents in the United States do not know their child's exact height, weight and eye color. And, when a child is reported missing, time can be the greatest adversary. Possessing up-to-date photographs and detailed information about a child can prove to be important proactive measures that can greatly assist local law enforcement officials to quickly respond to a child's disappearance.

Through an historic partnership with the New York State Police, New York State Sheriffs' Association and New York State Association of Chiefs of Police, the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services' Missing and Exploited Children Clearinghouse has been working with law enforcement officials to provide Operation SAFE CHILD ID Cards to parents across the state.

Operation SAFE CHILD ID Cards contain the child's name, basic biographical information (date of birth, gender, height, weight, hair color, eye color) and a fingerprint image of both index fingers. The card is made in less than two minutes and can easily be carried in a wallet or pocketbook.

In addition to being able to quickly provide important details to police agencies investigating child disappearances, the New York State SAFE CHILD ID Card will serve as an important tool when used in conjunction with the NYS AMBER Alert and Missing Child Alert Programs. These identification cards will allow essential missing child information to be electronically disseminated, statewide if necessary, within minutes and dramatically increase the possibility of bringing a missing child home unharmed.

Today's visit to Syracuse is one of the many outreach events being attended this summer by the New York State Missing and Exploited Children Clearinghouse to promote Operation SAFE CHILD. Next month, the state will begin to distribute 27 Child ID units to sites in Albany, Broome, Chautauqua, Clinton, Dutchess, Erie, Monroe, Nassau, Niagara, Oneida, Onondaga, Orange, Rensselaer, Rockland, Schenectady, Suffolk, Ulster and Westchester counties for the initial phase of the Operation SAFE CHILD roll-out.