By Schuyler Kropf The Post and Courier Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The U.S. Attorney for South Carolina and 9th Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson will announce a joint initiative Thursday to combat gun violence specific to Charleston and Berkeley counties.

The plan is being dubbed "Operation Fed Up."

Officials were reluctant to give many details Tuesday. North Charleston Police Chief Jon Zumalt said the initiative is an attempt to reinvigorate and refocus efforts that began under another anti-crime feature known as "Project Cease Fire."

That plan was another joint initiative launched in 2002 to combat gun violence in South Carolina. The program, which also featured a task force approach, used a mix of technology, education and enforcement to reduce bloodshed and lock up people who carry illegal weapons or use them during crimes.

By 2006, more than 2,000 offenders had been locked up through "Cease Fire," according to federal statistics.

Local focus initiatives have waned in recent years as investigators and prosecutors at the federal level shifted focus to concentrate on terrorism-related matters, Zumalt said.

Among other things, "Operation Fed Up" will seek to prosecute more gun-related crimes in the federal court system, where sentences tend to be longer and punishments more severe, Zumalt said.

"I think it's wonderful," he said.

Gun violence has been a persistent problem in South Carolina, which has been ranked first in the nation, per capita, for violent crime for much of the past decade.
Area law enforcement leaders also have pushed for state lawmakers to adopt a series of anti-crime measures to end the bloodshed, but few of these initiatives emerged from the recently completed legislative session.

A press conference will be held at 2 p.m. Thursday at the 9th Circuit Solicitor's Office. The event will be hosted by U.S. Attorney W. Walter Wilkins and Wilson.