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City of Jackson Announces Plan to Prosecute Gun Crimes

By Daniel Cherry | Published 20 Apr 2011 11:38am | comments

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms is expanding their role in fighting violent gun crimes in the Capitol City. MPB's Daniel Cherry reports on the new strategy and the partnership with local law enforcement.

Mississippi is among the most dangerous states for gun violence and Jackson has been making headlines for its recent shootings. Constance Hester is an Agent for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. She says the ATF will now investigate all gun crimes in Jackson.

"We started rethinking our approach. Instead of waiting and being reactive we're starting now to be more proactive. We're going out into the community, seeing where the violent crime areas are. We can even go into the community and have them tell us what the issue is."

Federal cases for crimes have to be prepared differently than state and local cases. James Morris, head of the Jackson ATF Division says lack of communication sometimes hampers federal prosecution.

"It might be two or three days. It might be two or three weeks before we get that information. With us being in the department and being in the patrol car we're going to be there to investigate in the beginning and know what questions to ask so those cases don't get lost."

The ATF says they will focus on the most crime ridden pockets of the city first then expand. Jackson Mayor Harvey Johnson says crime is down recently, but he wants better prosecution to help change an notions people might have that Jackson isn't safe.

"We think that this is going to help drive it down even further. As we get illegal guns off the street people will feel safer. I think that's the ultimate testament of both visitors and residents not the numbers or isolated incidents."

The ATF says they want to spread the effort across the state. They will compile ballistics information from all gun crimes into a database. It will be used to identify those who commit multiple gun crimes. In 2009 firearms were involved in nearly 70 percent of all murders. Daniel Cherry...MPB News.

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