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New task force to target Chittenden County gun violence

BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - The Burlington Police and other local departments are teaming with federal authorities as part of a new task force aimed at stopping the surge in gun violence.

The Chittenden County Gun Violence Task Force will be comprised of members of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, eight local police departments, four state agencies, and other federal authorities including the FBI, Homeland Security, and U.S. Marshals.

“What this does is it formalizes a lot of those existing relationships and hopefully facilitates them so that they run more smoothly and ultimately create stronger investigations,” said Burlington Police Acting Chief Jon Murad.

The task force allows federal agencies like the ATF to allocate resources to local departments in the event of a shooting investigation. It also boosts information sharing and creates strategies for catching those responsible for these types of crimes.

The Colchester Police Department will assign one officer to serve on the task force. “That officer will be up to date on the information sharing, will be up to date on any current investigations. There’s a training aspect involved as well, so that we’re all working on the same page,” said Colchester Police Chief Dough Allen.

Burlington has seen upwards of 23 gun incidents this year and three of those were homicides. Police say they’ve made arrests in 13 of the 23 cases. Burlingtion Mayor Miro Weinberger says the people committing the crimes need to be held accountable. “Ultimately, this effort needs to be judged on whether or not we are able to end this spike in violence and return to gunfire incidents being a very rare event in Burlington and Chittenden County. I’m confident we can get back there,” he said.

When it comes to prosecuting the crimes, U.S Attorney for Vermont Nikolas Kerest says the task force will help bolster investigations, leading to stronger cases. “That type of collaboration and teamwork is really the key to solving crimes, and the key to the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Chittenden County State’s Attorney’s office to effectively prosecute those crimes,” he said

The ATF will also be using the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network, NIBIN, to test ballistics evidence and allow them to link crimes together and provide investigative leads in a timely manner.

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