The Metro Nashville Police Department has formed a specialized task force to enhance its efforts to fight gun crime. City officials say the new unit includes federal agents and focus on figuring out whether a firearm is linked to multiple crimes.
The task force consists of six Nashville police detectives, one sergeant and the two agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives who are trained in using a national firearms database, the National Integrated Ballistics Information Network.
MNPD Chief Steve Anderson says this unit, which formed in December, will help the department not only solve individual shootings, but also discover if acquired guns or shell casings can be linked to previous crimes.
"Over these past years, our officers have done a very good job of using science in their investigation — collecting shell casings at crime scenes. And it will be the task of the Crime Gun Unit to lead an enhance full-time effort," said Anderson during a press conference with Nashville Mayor David Briley Thursday.
Anderson, Briley and others called it the city's largest-ever interagency effort to fight gun crime. Don Cochran, U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee, says MNPD detectives have always been able to use the database and produce reports on the guns they’ve acquired. But this allows investigations to happen faster.
"The Crime Gun Unit gets those reports within [one to two days], and they start investigating those leads much more quickly than what used to happen," said Cochran.
Cochran adds that becaise guns move across different parts of the city and state, it’s not easy for detectives to gather data from different precincts. He says the task force enhances collaboration across different law enforcement agencies and makes data-sharing easier.