Surrounded by a number of law enforcement partners, Suffolk District Attorney Kevin Hayden announced a new initiative that aims to deliver on his promise to crack down on gun crime in the county.
The “first program of its type in New England,” dubbed Boston Firearm Intelligence Review Shooting and Trafficking (Boston FIRST), combines local, state and federal resources to stem the tide of illegal guns flowing into Boston streets, Hayden said.
Hayden said Boston FIRST strengthens the ability of the DA’s office, Boston Police Department, and other local law enforcement in addressing unsolved shootings.
“It combines resources to target the individuals who are responsible for flooding our streets with guns and those who actively fire them, which ultimately leads to senseless violence, bloodshed and tragedy in our communities,” said Hayden, who announced the initiative during a press conference at his office Thursday.
He added: “When I started as DA, I made guns a priority of my administration. This program and all the agencies involved here, will help put that priority to work, to make our streets and neighborhoods safer for everyone.”
Boston FIRST aims to use state-of-art ballistic tracking technology to reduce gun violence by identifying the source of gun crimes, and the individuals responsible for trafficking them into the city, Hayden’s office said.
Two agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) have been assigned to the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office Crime Strategies Bureau as part of the program. Two Boston Police detectives have also been assigned.
James Ferguson, special agent in charge of ATF’s Boston Field Office, cited recent data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that showed gun homicides increased by 35% in the United States in 2020.
A Boston FIRST Task Force report showed that, from 2019-21, Boston saw a 5.25% increase in non-fatal shootings, and an 11.5% increase in single-victim shootings.
Ferguson said the new program combines the strengths of its partners in intelligence, law enforcement, and prosecution, in an effort to solve crime and prevent further gun violence.
“We recognize that it is a very small population of criminals who are responsible for a large part of the violent crime, and it is our job to identify those individuals and target them so we can get them off the streets and keep these cities safe,” he said.
The collaboration will use a federal ballistic database to track firearms and ballistic evidence seized during arrests in Boston. Linking the gun or ammunition to another crime or individual through the database will provide authorities the ability to build larger cases against people who illegally use, traffic or supply a gun, Hayden’s office said.
Hayden said the program is “not focused on the frightened youngster caught with a firearm,” or merely tracking any person who possesses a gun.
“It’s tracking those who are trafficking guns, who are bringing them into our streets and into our cities,” said Hayden. “It’s also helping to tackle and address unsolved shootings.”