A new Memphis strike force aimed at reducing violent gun crimes was announced Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Justice.
A Crime Gun Intelligence Center will be operated in Memphis after $1.1 million was invested to cover the costs of personnel and technology.
Crime Gun Intelligence Centers use forensic science to prosecute shooters and their sources of firearms. It will be led by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
“This department is proud to invest in this important work,”Acting U.S. Attorney Generay Matthew Whitaker said Wednesday. “I believe that we have a real mandate from the American people to keep them safe.”
From 2014 to 2016, the violent crime rate went up by nearly 7 percent nationwide.
“Here in Memphis murder went up by 40 percent,” Whitaker said. “In 2016, there were nearly 200 homicides in Memphis.”
And the violent crime rate in Memphis went up by another 10 percent last year, he added.
“Last year the murder rate, the assault rate, and the robbery rate in Memphis were each five times the national average,” Whitaker said.
There is a big concern about gun crimes in Memphis, he said.
“Our local partners here in Memphis have told me that in the first 10 months of this year, there were 283 reported armed car-jacking incidents within the city, which represents a 63 percent increase compared to the same period last year,” he said.