Building it Better Together: Technology's role in combating gun violence

The Philadelphia Police Department is partnering with the FBI and ATF to help solve the issue of rising gun violence.

Maggie Kent Image
Friday, September 10, 2021
Building it Better Together: Using technology to combat gun violence
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The Philadelphia Police Department is partnering with the FBI and ATF to help solve the issue of the rise in gun violence.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- There have been more than 350 murders in Philadelphia this year. To help alleviate the overwhelming caseload for local law enforcement, federal partners are stepping up with technology in hand to help solve these cases.

Inside the Delaware Valley Intelligence Center Real Time Crime Center in South Philadelphia, you'll find an interconnected network of cameras, manned by members of the Philadelphia Police Department Intelligence Bureau.

They are monitoring for suspicious activity and screening for potential acts of terrorism before they happen.

The Philadelphia Police Department is now partnering with the FBI and ATF to help solve the issue of the rise in gun violence.

"We are blessed to be where we are and have the capability. But I think there's an assumption that we have more technology than we have. That's why it's so important for us, as a municipal agency, to rely on, I call them, 'toys...' or the resources or technology to be able to do what we do," said Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw.

RELATED: Discussion with local and federal law enforcement on the epidemic of gun violence in Philly

As part of the "All Hands on Deck" partnership between federal agencies and local police, the FBI is lending a hand when it comes to retrieving surveillance video.

"Digital imaging video recovery teams - we train all agents across the country in that. We trained over 250 police officers in Philadelphia," said Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the Philadelphia FBI field office Jim Christie.

The FBI is also employing cellular analysis survey teams to help solve local crimes. They can pinpoint cellphone locations based on data from nearby cell towers.

"I talk to detectives all the time and they are overwhelmed with crime, the robberies and the burglaries. They can only focus on so much. (The FBI can) bring that aspect to retrieve that digital evidence and help review it," said Agent Christie.

When it comes to guns recovered in investigations, the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms lends a hand testing guns for ballistic evidence and analyzing recovered spent shells.

RELATED: The Battle Against Illegal Guns in Philadelphia

"It provides a signature on the shell casing as well as the projectile, and that would be the way we'd be able to link this firearm to other crimes," explained Special Agent in Charge of ATF Philadelphia Matthew Varisco.

All that information is then entered into a national database to match bullets to guns.

Armed with evidence, the U.S. Attorney of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Jennifer Arbittier Williams, can then federally charge suspected criminals.

"We like to fish with a spear, not with a net, as they say," she said.