A new statewide intelligence center to combat gun violence was recently announced by the Utah Department of Public Safety, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Utah and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
The Utah Crime Gun Intelligence Center (UCGIC) will bring together local partners from city and county police agencies to collect related evidence from crime scenes and submit it to the crime lab for analysis.
“The objective of the CGIC is to produce timely and actionable information focusing the efforts of our partners, including police, prosecutors and forensics experts on the ‘trigger pullers’ in Utah,” according to a press release.
The center will employ several tools aimed at enhancing cooperation among law enforcement agencies. They include the ATF National Tracing Center and the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network. This ATF-managed law enforcement program is being used to identify, target and prosecute shooters and their sources of “crime guns.”
“It is the only system of its type, and it enables the capture and comparison of cartridges to aid in solving firearm-related violent crime. The goal of the UCGIC is to ‘connect the dots’ and provide actionable investigative leads in a real time manner that will result in the arrest of suspects before they can commit additional shootings,” according to a press release.
The center is modeled on similar programs that have been implemented in states across the country, including Colorado, New Jersey and Arizona. The center will help solve murders and drive-by shootings and will hopefully prevent violent crimes.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has provided research showing that there are 12.9 deaths per 100,000 people in the state of Utah (370 deaths in 2016), which is higher than the national average. Currently, the CDC has found data showing that 96 Americans are killed with guns on an average day.
“The Crime Gun Intelligence Center is a game changer in the fight against crime in Utah,” said Debbie Livingston, ATF Denver Field Division Special Agent in Charge.
In recent years, there has been a steady increase in deaths by firearms. According to data from the Everytown For Gun Safety Support Fund, “from 2009–2016 in the U.S., there have been 156 mass shootings. … These incidents resulted in 1,187 victims shot: 848 people were shot and killed, and 339 people were shot and injured.”
“The use of this new tool will provide great strides towards reducing violent crime in Utah,” said Utah Department of Public Safety Commissioner Keith Squires.
“One reason I’m so enthusiastic about this is there’s lots of requests for very limited resources, but this is one that I felt strongly would benefit our communities throughout the state in being able to identify a relatively small group of individuals who are committing violent crimes using firearms,” Squires said.