The Justice Department announced it’s broadening the process for tracking firearms used in multiple shootings – one of a number of initiatives rolled out Thursday with the goal of partnering with local law enforcement and reducing violent crime in the US.
Specifically, through what’s known as the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network, any firearm submitted for tracing and associated with a positive “hit” linking it to a prior shooting incident will be prioritized, and the requesting agency will then receive information about the firearm’s first retail purchaser within 24 hours, instead of the usual five or six business days.
The department says it will expand the trace program nationwide by the end of the year.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions additionally announced the department’s “reinvigoration” of a longtime violent crime reduction program called Project Safe Neighborhoods – saying he will hold attorneys “accountable for results.”
“Taking what we have learned since the program began in 2001, we have updated it and enhanced it, emphasizing the role of our US attorneys, the promise of new technologies and, above all, partnership with local communities,” Sessions said in a statement.
As part of this new strategy, Sessions is allocating 40 federal prosecutors – either new or current – to approximately 20 US Attorney’s Offices to focus on violent crime reduction, but the department declined to specify which jurisdictions at this time.
“Because PSN is a department priority, I will hold each United States attorney accountable for results,” Sessions stated in a memo to US attorneys across the country.
The metrics by which each jurisdiction will be judged as a success or failure remain unclear.
When asked if US attorneys will have to meet certain benchmarks or will now be graded by their efforts to reduce crime rates in their cities, a DOJ official said the department is asking them to “track” violent crime numbers but recognized reversing current trends won’t happen overnight and it doesn’t expect them to “flip a switch.”
Another Justice Department official said the overarching goal of the program is to ensure better streamlined coordination between federal and local law enforcement agencies and ending “turf wars” over cases.