Law & Order: Keeping guns out of the 'wrong' hands - KCTV5

GUNS IN THE HEARTLAND

Law & Order: Keeping guns out of the 'wrong' hands

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Getting illegal guns off the street is a top priority, not only for the Kansas City Police Department but also for the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office. (KCTV5) Getting illegal guns off the street is a top priority, not only for the Kansas City Police Department but also for the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office. (KCTV5)
On average, KCPD takes in five guns off the street every day. In 2015, they took in 1,704 firearms. Most were seized from people who aren’t allowed to have them, including teenagers. (KCTV5) On average, KCPD takes in five guns off the street every day. In 2015, they took in 1,704 firearms. Most were seized from people who aren’t allowed to have them, including teenagers. (KCTV5)
KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

Getting illegal guns off the street is a top priority, not only for the Kansas City Police Department but also for the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office.

Both are on the front lines of keeping guns out of the hands of people who aren’t supposed to have them.

There’s a long list of people forbidden from having a gun by federal laws. It includes fugitives, those addicted to a controlled substance, someone who has been forcefully committed to a mental health facility, anyone in the country illegally, those with an dishonorable discharge from the military, someone who has renounced their citizenship, has a restraining order against them or has been convicted of domestic violence. 

On average, KCPD takes in five guns off the street every day. In 2015, they took in 1,704 firearms. Most were seized from people who aren’t allowed to have them, including teenagers.

“We recovered 56 firearms last year that were possessed by people 17 and younger,” says Sgt. Eric Roeder, a supervisor for the department’s violent administrative squad.

Before this unit was formed in 2013, robbery detectives did most of the work. When caseloads became too heavy, this special task force was formed.

Six detectives partner with federal agents and focus on non-violent gun cases.

“Chief Forte wanted to have an aggressive move toward combating gun crime and the non-violent crime is a precursor to the more violent crimes that occur,” Roeder points out.

Most of the guns are seized because of leads from patrol officers. They’re on the front lines and often see and hear more than anyone in the department.

The number of cases prosecuted for illegal possession of weapons has shot up.

In 2012, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Missouri received only 32 cases. In 2015, that number jumped to 126 with more than 80 percent coming from KCPD. The office has the second highest number of gun prosecutions in the country.

 Another 259 cases were sent to local district attorneys, like Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker.

“If we overlooked this group of individuals, we are overlooking a prime group of individuals who are not just at risk of committing a violent crime but at risk of becoming a victim of violence,” Baker said.

She took a stand and asked for all ‘illegal possession of a firearm’ cases be sent her way, where penalties can be serious.

Since 2011, Baker’s office has seen a 40 percent increase in the number of cases prosecuted involving firearms.

The Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office also backs KC NOVA, the Kansas City No Violence Alliance. It’s purpose is to stop violence crimes before they start. One of their tactics is to target anyone who has a gun illegally.

“If you’re a felon and are causing harm to our community, we are not going to sit back,” Baker said. “If you cause harm to the community, we are going to get out in front of the crime.”

It’s a law enforcement partnership that seems to be working and one that will continue as long as there are guns in the hands of the wrong people.

Copyright 2016 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.

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