MEMPHIS,Tenn. -- It's no secret Memphis has a gun problem. Tuesday, the Tennessee Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms told WREG it's trying to get the Memphis Police Department to trace more of the guns found on the streets, and submit the information to the national level to help solve gun crimes across the country.
Mayor A C Wharton was surprised by this news.
He told WREG, "I'm glad you raised that point, I will find out. Trace information is of critical importance."
ATF Spokesman Michael Knight says Wharton's police department isn't reporting essential information to the feds when it comes to illegal guns.
"That is how violent crime is solved. Utilizing limited resources and leveraging technology," Knight said.
He's with the ATF Tennesee Bureau, and told WREG the agency relies on local police departments to run the serial numbers on the guns they seize and submit them to agency. ATF says in 2014, you can track a lot more crime on the computer than you can on the streets.
The breakdown of illegally traced guns from the ATF almost looks like a see-saw.
In 2007, 4,641 illegal guns were traced in Tennessee. One hundred and thirty six of them came from Memphis.
But in 2008, that number jumped to 3,558 reported in Memphis. In 2009, the number fell to 175, spiked up the next year to 853, dipped to 103 in 2011, and jumped to more than 2,000 in 2012.
ATF suspects it's was all a matter of MPD officers getting technology upgrade. Numbers show now officers are taking the time to trace the guns.
"If you look at the internal reports through MPD, they more likely recovered more than 100 something fire arms," Knight said.
ATF reports it's working to create a relationship with MPD management and the officers assigned to trace guns in order to get them to take the time.
Wharton added, "We need to do locally what we should do. I'll find out from Director Armstrong why that's the case."
MPD responded with this statement:
eTrace is a voluntary program that is provide through ATF. However, MPD chooses to participate by submitting quarterly batch files to ATF for tracing. During the years of 2007-2008 MPD and ATF adjusted the way information was sent and received; now and for several years past, we have been submitting quarterly reports.
ATFs Frontline model of reducing violent crime includes the tracing of recovered firearms The firearms tracing program is completed by a electronic process where the results are sent back to the requesting department. The results are used as a resource to aid in investigations. This investigative resource is optional as there are many other techniques used by the Memphis Police Department to perfect criminal investigations.
The working relationship between ATF and the Memphis Police Department has the common goal of providing a safe environment to the public by reducing violent crime. This partnership leverages technology in the form of social media in order for the public to provide information on violent crimes.
Several violent crimes have been solved by tracing recovered firearms as well as submission to the National Intregrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN).
The Memphis Police Department as well as any other law enforcement agency establishes their own criteria for tracing recovered firearms. Due to the sensitivity of certain investigations the firearms may not be immediately traced upon recovery.
ATF encourages the public to record the serial number and all other information to include a photograph of their personally owned firearms this information should be kept separate from the firearm. This way if the firearm is ever reported stolen, law enforcement authorities will be in a better position to return the firearm to the rightful owner.