Federal VIPER task force: Guns are coming from other states, throughout NY

New York News

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The Buffalo Office of the FBI held a public meeting with the Rochester community on Thursday to provide an update on the Federal Violence Prevention and Elimination Response (VIPER) Task Force and its efforts to stop gun violence plaguing the community.

On July 7, U.S. Attorney James Kennedy, Jr. announced the task force, a 60-day surge aimed at removing violent gun offenders from the streets of Rochester and Buffalo to enhance public safety and reduce crime. When opening the discussion, federal investigators explained much of the sources of guns used in crime are illegally coming in from out of state—like Georgia and elsewhere—with relaxed gun laws.  

“The answer is everywhere. They’re coming from the Southern states. They are coming from throughout New York,” Assistant Special Agent Jeremy Bell said. “We’re doing our best to identify sources. We are working with our law enforcement partners. The ATF”—the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives—”is exceptionally good at tracking guns—especially illegal guns.”

Several community members at the meeting asked about how the pattern can be stopped in ways that don’t include mass incarceration or more police in the streets.

“If we can prevent a criminal from committing a crime through education outreach it’s worth its weight in gold,” Agent Bell said. “Once someone commits a crime it takes a lot of sources and manpower of my agency and others to investigate and ultimately arrest those offenders.”

Low turnout to these meetings still has others frustrated the right solutions are not coming up quick enough.

“They are reaching out to the wrong people,” said Asa Adams, who lives in Rochester. “They need to come down to the people who are involved in the problem. Who is living the problem? I hope we do not try to put an old remedy to a new situation.”  

The FBI also addressed how the program will continue over the rest of its initial 60-day term which could eventually involve a resembled project taking over to keep the original achievements insight.

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