Salinas police team up with ATF

February 3, 2009 12:32:47 PM PST
Salinas police announced a partnership with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives on Monday as part of an ongoing effort to curb gang violence in the city.

The partnership, in the works since last year, will place two ATF agents with the Police Department to review cases and act in uniform as part of the Violence Suppression Unit, police Investigations Cmdr. Dino Bardoni said.

Announced Monday morning at City Hall by city and police officials, the program will allow ATF agents to determine if suspects arrested for gun-related crimes can be charged in federal court, Bardoni said.

With the city's major crime problems related to gangs, charging suspects with federal court will be one way the city can address its gang problem, Bardoni said.

Federal convictions carry federal prison time without time off for good behavior, Bardoni said. Breaking up the work gang members do in prison is also a perk to seeking federal charges, he said.

"Gang members, when they go to county jail or state prison, they're still networking," Bardoni explained. "When you put them in federal prisons, they're not networking like they have been."

The ATF's partnership with the city is not a new venture for the federal agency, but the Salinas partnership is timely, Bardoni said.

"The timing is perfect, unfortunately," he said, referring to the rash of gang violence that erupted with the New Year and caused a handful of deaths and injuries.

"This is just one more thing that we're trying to accomplish safe streets," Bardoni said. "Our ultimate goal is to reduce the gang violence in the city of Salinas. This in itself is not going to do it."