Phoenix police, other agencies to combat increase in shootings with ‘Operation Gun Crime Crackdown’

The Phoenix Police Department is teaming up with ATF and prosecutors to crack down on gun crime.
Published: Jun. 22, 2022 at 9:40 AM MST|Updated: Jun. 22, 2022 at 12:25 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Phoenix police, Mayor Kate Gallego and others hosted a press conference Wednesday morning to address the rise in gun violence incidents across the Valley and announced new, focused enforcement to help curb the trend: Operation Gun Crime Crackdown.

“If you hear gunfire in your neighborhood, we need you to call 911,” said Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams. “We’ve also set up a tip line. Operation Gun Crime Crackdown is about getting guns out of the hands of those who should not have them.”

The chief said the operation will involve all agencies that attended the event. “Phoenix police officers can go out and make an arrest, but it’s really the tracking of the gun and the ballistics, the prosecution of the same and if we can add federal charges — having all of those pieces come together as one piece is a force multiplier,” Williams said. The department says that 10 Phoenix detectives will be assigned to those precincts with the highest gun-related crimes.

In 2021, 80% of all homicides in Phoenix involved a firearm, showing an increase of 56% in deaths and 46% in injuries in comparison to previous years.

Other agencies that took part in the conference include the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, the U.S. Attorney District of Arizona, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, and the ATF. In 2021, 80% of all homicides in Phoenix involved a firearm, showing an increase of 56% in deaths and 46% in injuries in comparison to previous years. Bureau agents will be coordinating with the Phoenix Gun Crime Intelligence Unit and the National Intelligence Ballistic Information Network to compare ballistic data.

Maricopa County Attorney General Rachel Mitchell said that her office will be working with the operation to investigate gun crimes and offering resources for the police to identify evidence for prosecution. The office also said that is plans to work with law enforcement to arrange release conditions for those who’ve been arrested.

“It’s the responsibility I feel when I look at the family of people who have been killed just needlessly and senselessly,” said Mitchell. “I’m here because it’s time to say enough is enough. Lawlessness in this community is not going to be accepted by the police or the partners of our agencies, and that includes the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office.”

The family of 14-year-old Emily Morgan, who was killed in a north Phoenix mass shooting earlier this month also spoke. Eight other people were injured in that shooting. Morgan family members Gabe and Jen Keely spoke frankly about the loss of their daughter and how it has impacted their family. Gabe asked for the community’s help and cooperation with law enforcement authorities and hotlines.

“We need help. The Silent Witness program is amazing,” said Gabe. “But, without your help, we don’t know how this will end. There’s many faces that are up here; there’s many faces that aren’t up here. My heart goes out to every single one of those families. We watch our door every night and wait for her to walk through it still. Every noise in our house, we jump up.”

This new operation announcement comes on the heels of Chief Williams speaking before the Senate Judiciary Committee about gun violence on June 15, which was also the day after a Phoenix police officer was wounded in a shooting. “Had it not been for her vest that she was wearing, I wouldn’t be sitting here today,” Chief Williams said to the committee.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Senate reached an agreement on the gun violence bill, inspired by the recent tragedy in Uvalde, Texas. The bill is the first of its kind to curb firearms in a major way in the past 29 years and will cost around $15 million to enact. Across the U.S., according to the Gun Violence Archives, there have been over 250 mass shootings so far this year.

The program’s official launch will be Tuesday, July 5. To report gun crime to Phoenix police whether online or by calling the department directly, click here. Click here for related resources provided by the Phoenix Police Department.