Auburn, Ala. (WRBL) – Lee County law enforcement is forming a new task force focused on reducing gun crime throughout the community using sophisticated ballistic tracking technology and teamwork.
Auburn and Opelika police departments, the Lee County Sheriff’s Office and the District Attorney’s Office are collaborating to create the Metro Gun Crimes Task Force (MGCTF). In November 2022, the Auburn Police Department was awarded a federal “Project Safe Neighborhood” grant totaling more than $254,000. The grant helps law enforcement reduce gun crime through innovative law enforcement technology and procedures. As such, APD used the grant to acquire advanced forensic equipment and sign up for the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms’ (ATF) National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN).
NIBIN is nationwide, allowing MGCTF investigators to quickly track and connect seized firearm evidence to other crimes throughout the Southeast region. For example, if investigators seize a shell casing from a crime scene in one of their respective jurisdictions, they can quickly enter the evidence into NIBIN and potentially connect the case to another crime committed with the same firearm in a neighboring city, county or state. While housed at APD, all agencies participating in MGCTF will have investigators trained in the use of NIBIN with 24/7 access to the system.
“Local law enforcement agencies working together to address and prevent gun crime is a proactive effort that cannot be measured but will have an impact. We are grateful for the partnership,” said Auburn Police Chief Cedric Anderson.
In addition to NIBIN training, all officers participating in the MGCTF will be required to attend additional training focusing on legal issues, de-escalation techniques, implicit bias awareness, and proper tactics for criminal interdiction and patrolling.
“The incidence of violent acts involving firearms is of great concern to all and has visited tragedies in our largest cities down to our smallest towns. Our local agencies, through this task force, will be able to combine efforts and use state-of-the-art technology to increase our effectiveness and efficiency in identifying and apprehending violent offenders in the overall goal of protecting our citizens,” said Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones.
The partnership aims to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of identifying and apprehending violent offenders and reducing the number of illegal guns on the streets to make the whole community safer.
“By coordinating our enforcement efforts, this task force becomes a force multiplier for our local agencies. By combining efforts and working together, we hope to drastically reduce the number of illegal guns on the streets in our communities,” said Opelika Police Chief Shane Healey.
Jessica Ventiere, Lee County District Attorney, believes that firearms combined with a criminal mindset are a real and present threat to the safety of every member of our community.
“By working together, our local law enforcement agencies will have a greater impact in reducing criminal activity, especially gun crime, throughout Lee County. The Lee County District Attorney’s Office will support law enforcement in their efforts, and we look forward to seeing the positive impact , this task force will have on the overall safety of our communities,” Ventiere said.