The near record pace for Memphis homicides is no secret, but some law enforcement officials say it's not unusual from what's happening across the country.
The 129 homicides in Memphis this year have not gone unnoticed by Steven Gerido, Special Agent in Charge for Tennessee and Alabama’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, & Explosives.
“The city of Memphis is huge for us,” Gerido told FOX13. “We really focus on all violent crimes and try to pull out the worst of the worst when it comes to those violent perpetrators on the streets of Memphis.”
The ATF has three offices in Memphis, and they work alongside the Memphis Police Department, the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office and the Multi-Agency Gang Unit.
“If we have a neighborhood with a high number of shootings, high number of aggravated assaults, and high number of homicides then we will focus resources and assets towards those neighborhoods,” Gerido explained.
In Gerido’s words, the ATF going after ‘trigger pullers,’ which seem to be on the rise this year.
FOX13 asked if Memphis is experiencing a gang war this year.
“Well I don't know if we can say we are seeing a gang war,” Special Agent Gerido answered. “I can say we are seeing a spike in violent crime. And the reason I can say that is because it's no different than any other urban city in the country.”
The man who oversees dozens of agents said the main challenge, “is to make sure we are engaged with the community.”
That is easier said than done given the current climate of policing.
“It’s tough. It can be sad at times,” Gerido said when asked about being in law enforcement in 2016. “But there are also times where you're just very proud. We’re saving lives.”
It is pride and the drive to protect that keeps the ATF focused on locking up the worst criminals, even in the face of danger.
“Our job is to protect the public and we will not be deterred from doing that,” Gerido told FOX13.
© 2020 Cox Media Group