NYPD, Federal ATF Create Illegal-Gun Task Force After Shootings

The New York Police Department and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives created a joint intelligence center that will seek to crack down on the illegal gun trade following a surge of shootings in the city.

The center will use new technology and traditional detective work to trace the source of weapons involved in crimes, said John DeVito, the ATF’s special agent in charge of New York State, said at a press conference Tuesday with Mayor Bill de Blasio.

“It’s not a matter of if, but when we’ll come calling,” DeVito said.

Mayor Bill de Blasio, who’s been contending with a 77% increase in shooting incidents citywide this year, described the effort as a “seamless team-up” and an “unprecedented partnership to reduce illegal guns in New York City.” NYPD’s intelligence division will deploy officers who will be “designated as federal agents” in the effort to hunt down the sources of guns used in crimes, de Blasio said.

The partnership wasn’t created until now, the mayor said, because city officials and the police department have been preoccupied with the Covid-19 pandemic, which struck hundreds of police officers and weakened the city’s crime-fighting effort. “We had to focus on defeating Covid and saving lives,” de Blasio said.

The partnership, modeled after the already existing city, state and federal Joint Terrorism Task Force, will create a hub in which city and federal law enforcement could cross state and local jurisdictions to trace guns, said John Miller, NYPD’s Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence and Counterterrorism.

“Rather than think about that question of whether to call ATF, it’s so much easier when that hub is there, and you can turn to the agent next to you,” he said.

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