News10NBC Investigates: RPD ATF gun arrest tactic nets 19 suspects in August

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. — If you’ve wondered what the police are doing to stop the record-breaking gun violence in our city, you just had to watch our investigative reporting. For a month, we’ve told you how the RPD is using the ATF to make some cases federal so that suspects stay in jail after they’re arrested. And today the Rochester Police chief confirmed the reporting.

It’s a simple plan. RPD makes an arrest. ATF runs a background check on the gun. If it comes up as being made outside New York, then it’s a federal case where judges can hold suspects if they think they’re dangerous. City court judges don’t have the authority to do that.

The police chief outlined the tactic at the Public Safety Building Monday afternoon.

Using the ATF started August 1st and since then?

“19 firearms related cases from our patrol sections have been referred to the ATF for federal prosecution,” Chief David Smith said.

I searched a few of those 19 suspects: Maurice Chatman, Jaden Campbell, Jimmy Harris. All three are still in jail.

A defendant named Christian Cruz was released after a hearing on his federal detention, mainly because he had to no prior criminal history.

“Chief, when it comes to referring cases to the ATF, sometimes you do it, sometimes you don’t. What cases go to the ATF?” I asked.

The chief said the ATF screens every gun case.

“Then the decision is made based on individual circumstances which we think would be more effective route to travel with that prosecution,” he said.
In the cases we found, the suspects were either convicted felons, dealing drugs or committing another crime.

Brean: “Is this working?”

Chief David Smith: “Absolutely it’s working.”
The chief went through the data in his paper work and found confirmed shots fired.

“71 in June. 97 in July. And then back down to 70 in August,” he said.

I searched the RPD’s data portal. From July to August murders went down from 11 to 7. Shooting victims decreased from 50 to 38.

It’s not over yet, however. Rochester is still on a record pace for killings in a year.

Today Chief Smith said he is assigning a full time sergeant, four officers and an investigator to the special gun team. Another 12 officers will join temporarily over nights.

On average this year, the RPD seizes two to three guns a day, a total of 558.

Here’s how they break down:

– 40 ghost guns

– 389 handguns

– 129 long guns

Where do the guns come from?

– generally, most crime guns were, at one point, legally owned and possessed, and were stolen or misplaced by the owner in New York State

– smaller percentage come from out of NYS

– smallest percentage are ghost guns, although that is increasing