AP NEWS

Little Rock police get federal grant to reduce gun crimes

January 15, 2018

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The Little Rock Police Department plans to use a federal grant to fund a new unit aimed at reducing the recent surge in city violence and to purchase technology that shaves the time it takes investigators to link shell casings found at crime scenes.

The nearly $480,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice will allow the police agency to buy its own National Integrated Ballistic Information Network machine. The technology helps officers determine whether shell casings found at different shooting scenes were fired from the same weapon, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported Monday.

With the machine, investigators will be able to run ballistics traces in-house instead of relying on a unit at the state Crime Laboratory, a process that comes with a slower turnaround.

The technology is part of the department’s initiative to reduce gun violence in the capital city, which surged last year, and reverse a steady uptick since 2014 in the number of nonfatal shooting victims

“Clearly, we have a problem with violent crimes in this city. And this is another avenue for us to try to address that,” police Capt. Ty Tyrrell told the newspaper. “I think everyone in this city will agree that we’ve got an issue. We need to work hard to solve it.”

The federal grant with also fund a unit of six full- and part-time positions, according to the police department. Similar police units that were formed in other cities such as Denver and Milwaukee have proven successful, helping detectives close cases at a quicker rate and link weapons with shooting incidents.

“We get better leads faster,” said Denver police Cmdr. James Henning, noting his city has seen a decline in gang violence. “And that gives us leads on other crimes.”

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Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.arkansasonline.com

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