Using an operational tattoo shop as a business front, the Richmond County, Ga., Sheriff's Office Gang Task Force conducted undercover investigations to reduce gun sales by local street gangs. The Task Force's ingenuity and excellence in local law enforcement earned them the 2008 International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) Award for Excellence in Criminal Investigations.

"The Richmond County Sheriff's Office Gang Task Force devised an innovative plan to combat gun sales by local street gangs," said Ron Ruecker, director of Public Safety for Sherwood, Ore., and immediate past president of the IACP. "Their work represents true excellence in the art of criminal investigations. We are proud to reward their ingenuity and commitment to combating crime, and are pleased to hold up their work as a best practice for law enforcement."

The task force's 16-month-long undercover investigation took more than 400 firearms off the streets in Augusta, Ga., and resulted in the arrests of more than 130 people. "It's a great honor to be recognized for our efforts fighting gang activities in Augusta," said Richmond County Sheriff Ronald Strength. "We are extremely proud of the gang task force's investigative work that dramatically reduced criminal activity involving gangs in Richmond County."

"West Government Services is proud to partner with IACP to recognize and honor excellence in criminal investigations," said Steve Rubley, vice president of West Government Services. "This award is an important part of our support for law enforcement efforts and a way to honor the hard work and dedication that our customers provide. Congratulations to the Richmond County Sheriff's Office and to the runners-up."

First runner-up Pasadena, California, Police Department used specially trained civilian volunteers in its Community Response to Eradicate and Deter Identity Theft (CREDIT) program to investigate and resolve identity theft cases. Second runner-up Palm Bay, Florida, Police Department developed a local DNA index system available to patrol officers and detectives to identify multiple offenders in a timely manner, resulting in the possible prevention of further crimes by the same perpetrator.

The IACP/ChoicePoint Excellence in Criminal Investigations Award, now sponsored by West Government Services, was created in 2003 to encourage innovation and recognize outstanding achievement by law enforcement organizations in conducting investigations. In September 2008, ChoicePoint's AutoTrack XP government business and CLEAR product line were acquired by Thomson Reuters to form the new West Government Services business. West Government Services provides technology, analytic and public record information to government agencies and law enforcement organizations, providing a new choice for public records information to these important markets.