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David Wald 609-292-4791
Office of Public Information (609) 882-2000
Capt. Al Della Fave ext. 6514

March 18, 2008

Attorney General Issues Directive Mandating Local Police Departments Report Gun Trace Information To State Police And ATF

Trenton, N.J. – Attorney General Anne Milgram today formally launched the state’s historic gun trace partnership with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives with the issuance of a new law enforcement directive that orders all local police departments to input data on guns used in the commission of a crime to the New Jersey State Police and the ATF.

The E-trace program, unveiled last summer by the ATF, Gov. Jon S. Corzine, Milgram and State Police Superintendent Rick Fuentes, has been operating on a pilot basis for several months to test computer programming that allows local police officers to report gun information to ATF at the same time they check whether a gun used in the commission of a crime was stolen.

The new computer program, formally dubbed the NJ Trace System, should boost reporting to ATF from 30 percent to 100 percent, Milgram said.

“The new system for local police is a significant step forward in creating a database to track gun trafficking,’’ Milgram said. “We will be able to track purchasers, retailers and wholesalers. It will be the kind of information and intelligence that will allow us to prevent crime and save lives.’’

“Even in the pilot phase, E-trace has revealed patterns of firearm purchases that have enabled us to arrest individuals for illegal gun distribution,” said Colonel Fuentes. “Fewer illegal gun dealers means fewer guns on the street. I believe this important directive will ultimately prevent murders.”

The partnership with ATF allows the State Police to use the ATF’s E-trace system to identify trends and relationships between crimes and gun transactions by pooling all reported information to the ATF. Previously, individual police departments would seek trace information from ATF and only that department would receive information back. The partnership creates a state database that can be mined for information by State Police analysts and shared by all municipal departments in the state.

The ATF E-trace system can disclose the identity of a firearm’s first purchaser, when it was purchased and where it was purchased. This allows state law enforcement officials to determine whether there are patterns to where guns used in a crime in New Jersey were originally purchased and who purchased them.

The Attorney General’s directive orders that local police departments promptly enter information on the make, model, caliber and serial number of a weapon seized in connection with a crime to both the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) system -- which can determine whether a weapon has been stolen. The directive says information should be entered into the NJ Trace system within 24 hours of the time the weapon was recovered.

In addition, the directive addresses ballistics testing and states that test firing should be done “as expeditiously as possible’’ and results submitted to the National Integrated Ballistics Identification Network (NIBIN) to determine whether the weapon is related to any other criminal episode.

“These technological advances are all important tools in our fight against crime,’’ Milgram said. “If we can trace illegal guns that are used in crimes, we can develop the kind of information that will help us catch the criminals trafficking in illegal guns.’’

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