Today is the first day of a new task force aimed at rounding up fugitives. Law enforcement agencies across the Western Slope are hoping to put over 17 thousand fugitives behind bars.
"This new initiative spans 13 counties... literally from the New Mexico to Wyoming border along the Western Slope of Colorado," says Peter Weir with the Colorado Department of Public Safety.
Local law enforcement agents from all over the Western Slope joined together to kick off the new coordinated effort to bring fugitives to justice.
"This is a demonstration of how we are working in a cooperative fashion to try to make the most of local resources, state resources, and federal resources," says Weir.
Over a year ago the Colorado Bureau of Investigation started talking with Western Slope's law enforcement. The CBI says the task force will help keep our communities safer at a much cheaper cost.
"It made sense at this point in time, given the current economic situation, that we team up and combine resources and man power," says David Linnertz with the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.
He says many of the fugitives don't stay in one community. Trading information with the 13 counties involved, makes their job a whole lot easier when it comes to the tracking down the 17 thousand wanted criminals.
"We are going to send a message to anyone that anticipates or contemplates coming to the Western Slope of Colorado. That if in fact, we have an outstanding warrant for you this group will also be hunting you down," says Weir.
Investigators say out of the 17 thousand fugitives, over 2 thousand of them are wanted for felony crimes. They say they'll continue to commit the crimes unless they get them behind bars.
"And these include murderers, child abusers, people accused of sexual assault so these are dangerous individuals," says Weir.
Top ranking law enforcement agents say it's their top priority to take down dangerous felons throughout the Western Slope.
"You know one of our concerns is if you have a felony warrant on you for a particular crime, our concern is your probably still engaged in that kind of activity," says Linnertz.
"There's several major felonies, people on felony warrants out of Delta county, sexual assault on children, home invasion those types of things," says Delta County Sheriff Fred McKee.
He says they have their fair share of wanted criminals. And he believes they're moving into neighborhoods across county lines.
"We have some serious felons out there. I don't believe those people are, right now, in Delta County. We would've, our communities small enough that we would recognize them," says McKeen.
Local law enforcement says some of the currently wanted fugitives have been evading prison time for over 20 years. The longer they evade Colorado authorities the more work they have on their hands.
"There's warrants that go back many years and there's others that are being issued all the time. So unfortunately, the numbers keep growing instead of shrinking. And the idea here is we can make an impact," says Grand Junction Police Chief John Camper.
And if you're a wanted felon, the group wants to leave you with a few last words.
"The message we are sending today is we are coming after you. You will be found you. You will be arrested. You will be prosecuted. You will be help accountable," says Weir.
They'll start with the most serious offenders first and work their way to misdemeanor warrants.