- The Washington Times - Monday, March 20, 2006

Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales yesterday said Atlanta would become the 23rd U.S. city assigned a federal Violent Crime Impact Team in an aggressive effort to make that city safer.

“The citizens of the city of Atlanta deserve to live free from violent crime,” Mr. Gonzales said in announcing the law-enforcement initiative during a press conference at the U.S. attorney’s office in Atlanta. “VCIT will help make Atlanta safer through a coordinated campaign to investigate and prosecute those individuals who threaten our communities with guns and violence.”

Washington, Baltimore and Richmond are among the other cities participating in the VCIT program.

The VCIT teams, led by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, consist of ATF agents, U.S. marshals, Drug Enforcement Administration agents and federal prosecutors who partner with state and local law-enforcement officers and prosecutors to proactively and aggressively identify, arrest and prosecute those responsible for firearms-related offenses and other violent crimes.

“Make no mistake about it; Violent Crime Impact Teams have saved lives by getting armed criminals off the streets,” said ATF Director Carl J. Truscott.

Mr. Truscott said the teams use technology and human intelligence to identify geographic areas within cities with violent firearms crime; identify the “worst” violent offenders, the criminal organizations that support them and armed career criminals; and use criminal investigations and investigative tools and resources to disrupt and dismantle criminal activity being perpetrated by the targeted persons and organizations.

He said they also arrest and prosecute those persons and their associates in the federal or state jurisdiction that lends itself to the maximum penalty; work with community leaders to cultivate solid and sustained commitment between the community’s residents and law enforcement; and evaluate results on a regular monthly basis to assess VCIT progress toward achieving the initiative’s goals.

Since its inception in June 2004, Mr. Truscott said, the teams have made 8,892 arrests and recovered 8,485 firearms in the areas where VCIT is deployed — working in conjunction with Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a strategy geared toward combating gun crime in communities across the country.

VCIT builds on the success of PSN, he said, by adding additional resources to lower the number of homicides and other violent firearms-related crimes in targeted areas.

Other VCIT teams are in Albuquerque, N.M.; Baton Rouge, La.; Camden, N.J.; Columbus, Ohio; Fresno, Calif.; Greensboro, N.C.; Hartford, Conn.; Houston and Laredo, Texas; Las Vegas; Los Angeles; Miami; Minneapolis; New Orleans; Philadelphia; Pittsburgh; Tampa, Fla.; Tucson, Ariz.; and Tulsa, Okla.

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