Saint Paul police, ATF have message for public: ‘We need your help.’

Saint Paul police, ATF have message for public: ‘We need your help.’
Reports of gun violence dropping; new program makes it easier for public to share information about who has guns illegally and who’s doing the shooting

The Saint Paul Police Department and Saint Paul Field Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) have launched a new effort to make it easier for the public to share information about gun crimes.

Earlier this summer, the agencies began handing out “Report It” cards, which provide four ways for people to confidentially share information with officers and agents:

The goal of the effort is to make it easier for people to help keep their neighborhoods safer by anonymously cooperating with investigations. 

Police reports written by Saint Paul officers often include details about uncooperative victims and witnesses, who for a variety of reasons won’t or aren’t able to talk to officers after shootings. This lack of information, according to officers, hinders investigations and makes it easier for criminals to continue using guns to commit crimes in the city.

Since Jan. 1, 2017, there have been more than 960 reports of firearm discharges in Saint Paul, 117 people have been shot and 11 killed.

Throughout the summer, the police department and ATF have worked together to reduce gun violence. The ATF has been leveraging its Crime Gun Intelligence Center and the National Integrated Ballistics Information Network, which use gun tracing and ballistic science in real time to identify the source of guns and track down suspects.

The Saint Paul Police Department has added six officers to its Gang and Gun Unit; expedited ballistics testing to more quickly produce leads; dedicated resources from several units to gathering, sharing and acting on information about crimes involving firearms; and partnered with federal agencies to identify, locate and successfully prosecute those who shoot guns in the city.

The efforts have produced results:

  • In April, reports of firearm discharges were up 75 percent over the same period of 2016 and are now up about 52 percent—an encouraging downward trend;
  • The Saint Paul Police Department has arrested 23 people who had extensive histories of gun violence, illegally possessing firearms or being involved in criminal activities; and
  • More than 400 guns—including assault rifles and other high-caliber firearms—have been recovered, many of which have been used to commit crimes.

Leaders of both agencies say gun violence could be further reduced with greater cooperation from the public.

“We are using all available tools to address gun violence, but we need the public’s help,” said Jeff Magee, AFT Saint Paul Field Division special agent in charge. “Every bit of information that people can share with us helps piece together criminal investigations or prevent violent crimes from occurring in the future.”

Saint Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell says addressing gun violence is a top priority for the department because affects everyone in the city.

“This is a shared problem that requires a shared solution,” he said. “Our officers and investigators are some of the best in the country—but they can’t do it alone.

“Silence can be deadly. A person who shoots once probably won’t think twice about doing it again. That’s why we need people to talk to us, tell us who has guns illegally, who’s shooting them and where we can find them. It’s about protecting everyone in Saint Paul from senseless acts of violence that tear at the very fabric of our community.”  

Report It