Sessions announces expansion of violent crime crackdown, gun tracing programs

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Thursday the expansion of programs aimed to crackdown on violent crime and drug trafficking and also vowed to expedite the process for tracing guns used in shootings.

Sessions plans to reinvigorate and expand the Project Safe Neighborhoods program to fight drug trafficking and violent crime in neighborhoods across the country, the Justice Department said. The Attorney General issued a memo to United States Attorneys directing prosecutors to implement the enhanced crime reduction program.

“According to the FBI, the violent crime rate has risen by nearly seven percent over the past two years, and the homicide rate has risen by more than 20 percent,” Sessions said in a statement. “We cannot be complacent or hope that this is just an anomaly: we have a duty to take action.

“Fortunately, we have a President who understands that and has directed his administration to reduce crime. The Department of Justice today announces the foundation of our plan to reduce crime: prioritizing Project Safe Neighborhoods, a program that has been proven to work.”

Sessions went on to note that the program is meant to be the main piece in the department’s crime reduction strategy and has been enhanced and modified since its inception in 2001.

“Taking what we have learned since the program began in 2001, we have updated it and enhanced it, emphasizing the role of our U.S. Attorneys, the promise of new technologies, and above all, partnership with local communities,” he said. “With these changes, I believe that this program will be more effective than ever and help us fulfill our mission to make America safer.”

America’s top prosecutor also noted the DOJ will work to fast-track the process for tracing firearms used in shootings throughout the country. By the end of the year, the department intends to expand the ATF’s National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN). Any firearm submitted for tracing that is linked to a shooting incident in the NIBIN system will be designated as “urgent” and the requestor given information within 24 hours instead of the normal five to six business days.