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200 Officers To Be Assigned to Gun Violence Task Force, Officials Say

By Ben Fractenberg | January 12, 2016 7:48pm
 Mayor Bill de Blasio announces the new anti-gun program, Project Fast Track, at City Hall on Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2016.
Mayor Bill de Blasio announces the new anti-gun program, Project Fast Track, at City Hall on Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2016.
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DNAinfo/Ben Fractenberg

CIVIC CENTER — Officials announced a new program Tuesday aimed at reducing gun violence in the city through a dedicated police task force and a gun court.

The NYPD, federal prosecutors and city district attorneys will work together on Project Fast Track to more effectively investigate and prosecute shootings. The program will include assigning 200 officers to a new Gun Violence Suppression Division and creating a Brooklyn court dedicated to handling illegal firearm cases.

“The status quo that existed for too many years…the status quo allowed for divisions, allowed for turf wars and separation,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said during a press conference at City Hall Tuesday afternoon. “We are now taking another very big step in creating a common front against guns.”

The new NYPD division will investigate gun sales, aggregate forensic evidence and commit to long-term investigations in the city’s 15 most violent precincts, according to officials.

Local officers will also work more closely with federal investigators to stop illegal trafficking.

The Brooklyn court will oversee gun possession cases and work to resolve them within six months.

A gun court once existed in Brooklyn, but ended in 2009.

Officials said this court would have more resources and a lighter case load.

“Back in the day in 2003 we had one judge to deal with the gun part,” Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson said during the press conference. “We’ll have two state Supreme Court judges who will work continuously on these cases. They will try those if we can’t resolve with a plea. We are going to have a retired judge to deal with the plea hearings.”

Police will also use social media to document every time a person is found guilty in a gun case.

“Arrests must lead to incarceration,” Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said Tuesday. “We want to improve on the 25 percent drop in shootings. We want shootings to keep going down even further. We believe that can happen.”