The city of Chicago has long been plagued by gun violence. In January, President Trump promised he would “send in the Feds” if Chicago didn’t fix the “carnage.”
There were 760 murders in Chicago last year, making 2016 the deadliest year yet for the Windy City. That number marks an increase of nearly 60% when compared to 2015, and is more than the number of murders in LA and New York combined.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, there have been 1,737 shootings so far in 2017 – with 320 of them ending in death.
“Crime and killings in Chicago have reached such epidemic proportions that I am sending in Federal help,” tweeted President Trump on Friday.
Twenty agents from the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) arrived in the city on Thursday, joining the 40 agents already stationed there. These agents will work with local and state police “to solve shootings and hunt down gun traffickers through ballistics technology,” reports the Chicago Sun-Times.
The coalition, which has been dubbed the “Chicago Crime Gun Strike Force,” is utilizing data collected from the National Integrated Ballistics Information Network – a digital catalogue that matches bullets to the mark or wound they create. This database allows them to make deductions that can be used to track down shooters and gun dealers.
“We’ve been doing this all along but now it’s being amped up,” said ATF spokesman Dave Coulson.
The force has already linked one 9mm gun to 28 shootings on the city’s West Side and has linked 14 assault rifles to a series of gang-related shootings in the southwest part of the city.
“It’s long term,” said Coulson of the agents’ new assignment. “They’re here permanently. It’s not a flash-in-the-pan concept where they come here for a year and leave.”
Meanwhile, prosecutors have been called in to decide whether to charge gun crime suspects in state or federal court.
“The goal is to prosecute as many of these guys as possible federally where they will serve longer prison terms,” explains Anthony Riccio, head of the Chicago Police Department’s organized crime unit.
The city is also in the middle of reorganizing its police department after a federal investigation revealed civil rights violations including racial discrimination and excessive use of force.