The Justice Department announced Tuesday that it plans to launch firearms tracking strike forces to combat rising violent crime.
Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said the strike forces will be sent to “particularly significant gun-trafficking corridors” in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay area and Washington, D.C.
“The central focus is on supporting local communities to prevent, investigate and prosecute violent crime,” Ms. Monaco said during a virtual Police Executive Research Forum Town Hall.
The initiative comes as several cities nationwide are reporting last year’s spike in crime-related death has carried over into 2021.
Homicides are up in at least 38 large cities in the first three months of this year compared to the same time in 2020, according to a recent report by the Major Cities Chiefs Association.
Ms. Monaco said she hopes the strike task forces, which will be deployed within the next 30 days, will help bring an end to the “stunning” and “sobering” trend.
Regional U.S. attorneys general will coordinate the cross-jurisdictional teams with local and state law enforcement agencies and the federal Bureau of Tobacco, Alcohol and Firearms. The organizations will share information to dismantle illegal gun operations that share state borders.
The groups will focus on “where the guns are originating, where they’re used in violent crime, where they’re transiting, and going after the entire network,” she said.
Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said in a press release Tuesday that the strike forces “will investigate and disrupt the networks that channel crime guns into our communities with tragic consequences.”
Tuesday’s news builds on President Biden’s Violent Crime Reduction Initiative announced last month. The White House hasn’t discussed the full scope of the president’s anti-crime plan, but early indications are the administration sees stiffer gun controls as an antidote to the rise of violence in American cities.
The Justice Department this month pushed for restrictions on stabilizing braces that transform a pistol into a short-barreled rifle. Officials also published model legislation for so-called red-flag laws which allow people to petition a court to take a gun away from an individual who may pose a threat to themselves or others.
Last month, the agency proposed changing the definition of a firearm to close a regulatory loophole that allows people to make ghost guns or guns made from do-it-yourself kits and don’t have serial numbers.
Justice Department officials are set to join the president Wednesday for another crime-fighting announcement on community policing.