PHILADELPHIA - Federal and local law enforcement agencies gathered in Center City on Thursday to announce a joint initiative aimed to help stem the scourge of gun violence that has gripped Philadelphia for more than a year.
United States Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams said the "All Hands on Deck" initiative brings together several state and federal agencies like never before to track down violent offenders. Federal Bureau of Investigation, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and Department of Homeland Security are some of the investigative branches that have signed onto the task force.
The wide array of departments and agencies also includes the United States Department of Transportation, Postal Service, and the State Department's Diplomatic Security Service. Arbittier Williams believes each agency brings unique tools to the table that will allow no stone to be left unturned when bringing violent offenders to justice.
"Each one of these agencies has unique tools, resources, and smart, dedicated investigators," Arbittier Williams said. "When we are all working together to support one mission it is a force multiplier."
Philadelphia so far in 2021 has endured 132 homicides, many of which are firearms related. Arbittier Williams called the rash of shootings "shocking and devastating." In the recent days, Philadelphia police said a 15-year-old was gunned down in Strawberry Mansion and on Wednesday night the city added three more gun deaths to its toll.
Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw added that 14 children under the age of 18 have been murdered by guns in Philadelphia this year.
"Night after night after night shots are fired and people are killed or seriously injured," Arbittier Williams said while standing in Independence Hall, a monument she believes symbolizes Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.
Some early highlights and plans of the initiative that were shared on Thursday includes the FBI adding more local agents to its gang task force dedicated to investigating carjackings, armed robberies and shootings. Officials also said the new violent trafficking program aided by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Philly police and SEPTA has resulted in 90 arrests in six months.
"To anyone who might be thinking about picking up a gun in order to shoot or threaten or intimidate someone, I warn you: The moment you commit the violent crime you will feel dread like never before because we are coming after you," Arbittier Williams said.
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