Weekend arrests made

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According to acting Chief Michael Wynn, the Pittsfield Police Department and other agencies began rooting out defendants with outstanding warrants throughout the Berkshires. In addition to the 17 arrests made based on 20 warrants, "four or five" defendants turned themselves in after learning that the authorities were on their way.

"What this is about is continuing our efforts to stay on top of the situation that we have been dealing with in the city," said Wynn. "This is a tool that we have, clearing up some of these outstanding warrants."

This is the first full-scale warrant sweep that has been conducted in Pittsfield in at least two years, Wynn said.

Agencies involved in this operation included the Pittsfield Police Department, the Berkshire County Drug Task Force, the Berkshire County Sheriff's Office, and probation officers from the Central Berkshire District Court. Also, agents from the Federal Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives Bureau and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement took part.

The outstanding warrants ranged from assault and battery to driving under the influence to an immigration violation, Wynn said.

He said four defendants were arrested on probable cause for drug distribution charges. "Those are the ones I think will make a dent (on crime in the city)," Wynn said.

This is a welcome sign from law enforcement officials, who have been working under sharp budget cuts and a rising crime rate. In the past six months, there have been more than a dozen gun- and knife-related crimes, some of which have stemmed from members within the drug trade.

But the operation was also a psychological weapon against the city's criminal element, as seven teams of five to six officers each combed the streets, coordinated via radio by the Drug Task Force and the larger agencies involved in the operation.

"Obviously, there are some high-profile targets that we didn't get during the sweep, which is disappointing, but on the other hand, they kept their heads down during that sweep — they didn't want us to come across them," Wynn said. "The fact that so many personnel were out there, it kind of kept a handle on things, and we'll do it again."

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