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U.S. attorney meeting with community partners for crime reduction project

U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak met with Hall County-area community partners Thursday, March 8, about a holistic approach between federal, state and local officials.

“We wanted to tell them that we are committed to helping their communities to reduce violent crime,” Pak said.

The initiative is under Project Safe Neighborhoods, a program Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in October the government would re-commit to for reducing crime.

“We want to do it in a manner that we are able to track and focus our energy and efforts through the use of data and also to work on the prevention piece, to make sure that we are in fact permanently changing the ecosphere of the community, not just picking up the bad apples and putting them into federal prison,” Pak said.

Gainesville Police Chief Carol Martin said in a statement she would “look forward to working with them in the future.”

“Very grateful that he is reaching out to local law enforcement and speaking on the programs that his agency can assist in,” she said.

The initiatives announced by the Department of Justice in October includes roughly $98 million in hiring grants for state and local law enforcement agencies. There would also be a national gang strategic initiative in developing investigations into these criminal enterprises.

Pak said he hopes to get law enforcement and prosecutors together to determine what jurisdiction and plan will best dismantle the “violent crime atmosphere.”

For juveniles leaving the Department of Juvenile Justice, Pak said they hope to identify those potentially at risk and highlight the dangers of being associated with gangs and the criminal element.

“We have partners who are former gang members and who are former convicted felons to talk to these youths about the dangers and the consequences of the choices that they can make,” Pak said, which would involve matching them with community partners.

The Department of Justice also mentioned in its October press release its plan to expand the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ National Integrated Ballistic Information Network urgent trace program. 

“Through this program, any firearm submitted for tracing that is associated with a NIBIN ‘hit’ (which means it can be linked to a shooting incident) will be designated an ‘urgent’ trace and the requestor will get information back about the firearm’s first retail purchaser within 24 hours, instead of five to six business days,” according to the Department of Justice.

Pak said tracing guns in gangs and criminal organizations is key to linking to other potential crimes.

“If you recover a gun at a certain jurisdiction, you can link that gun with the ballistics and the forensics to other crimes, and we do that almost every day. Having more robust information on databases and things like that will help us build bigger cases and more predicate acts for (racketeer influenced and corrupt organizations) charges,” Pak said.

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