It is going to take more than just parading victims of gun crime at political events to curb the gun violence in our cities. It is going to take creative efforts and a real commitment to ending gun violence.
Locally, one of the most creative efforts to combat gun violence was created by our own Chief of Police while he was still an inspector with the Connecticut Chief States Attorney's Office. James Rovella gave birth to Hartford's Shooting Task Force when he was directed to "do something" about the gun violence in Hartford.
The results have been phenomenal , even though STF is a shadow of what it once was when Rovella put his initial team together. The original team was a great, and very effective, combination of local, State and Federal authorities working together in a unique partnership that produced very solid results. The reputation of "STF" quickly grew and people carrying illegal guns on our streets felt the results. Very few people, both criminals and law abiding Citizens alike, didn't recognize the initials "STF" and what they were doing on our streets.
A main part of that success is not only the law enforcement aspect, but the court system follow through and sending penalties that show we are serious about illegal guns and shootings on Hartford's streets Unfortunately that message from our State courts is not as strong as it used to be. Budget cuts are hurting everyone and that may be p[art of the reason, but it also seems as though there is a reluctance on the part of the States Attorney and the court to relinquish control of some of these cases to the Federal level for more severe attention.
Sources from both the State and Federal level familiar with the two Court systems have described a type of "turf war". Federal prosecutors are apparently more than willing to take on gun prosecutions that meet their thresholds, but the State courts are unwilling to make that transition or allow the cases to move forward federally. I am told that criminals are more fearful of the Federal system than they are of the State prosecutions with the main reason being the sentences. Apparently a person convicted under Federal law is required to serve 80% of their sentence, no deals , no second chances.
I tend to agree with that, since many of the people winding their way through our State courts seem to be frequent flyers with numerous felony arrests. If we are going to be serious about ridding our streets of illegal guns, more creative partnerships need to be created. A good start to that would be calling upon our Federal Government to be real partners, not just talking heads at election time. The FBI, ATF, DEA, Homeland Security, US Marshall's. Hell, any Federal agency with powers of arrest that carry a badge and a gun should be part of a reconstituted STF.
We know most municipalities are stretched pretty thin with staffing and the State law enforcement is going to get worse before it gets better. But we don't want to get caught sending the message to criminals that their chances of getting caught are less likely, they need to know their odds of getting caught are better than ever.
Beefing up the Federal involvement would also serve another purpose. Federal agents making the arrests would enable the cases to go Federally right from the start. No turf wars, no jurisdictional bickering. Federal prosecutions and Federal jail time right from the start. I'm pretty sure that is a message that would be taken seriously by our local criminals who have gotten used to terrorizing our neighborhoods with a slap on the wrist. I am pretty sure that local officers could be "cross sworn" as Federal agents also allowing them to make Federal arrests
It would probably also serve the purpose of identifying the pipelines used for getting these guns on our streets with Federal agencies cooperating in the investigations and sharing information
It might be a novel idea, but it is also the creativity and "thinking outside the box" we need if we are going to be serious about gun violence