The Phoenix Police Department (PHXPD) announced that roughly a month after the launch of “Operation Gun Crime Crackdown” (OGCC), officers have seized hundreds of crime guns to reduce gun violence in the city.
“The results of this targeted effort are a great example of how working with our law enforcement partners can enhance the great work the men and women of the Phoenix Police Department do every day,” Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams said.
From July 5, when the operation began, to August 15, agents seized 711 guns and arrested 526 individuals associated with gun crimes, several of which were involved with homicides still under investigation. Over a dozen guns included an illegal “conversion device” that can turn ordinary guns fully automatic and a flare gun modified to shoot a 9-millimeter round.
The PHXDP stated that the OGCC is not about taking guns from law-abiding citizens but rather about getting guns out of the hands of criminals.
The operation is a joint effort between state and federal agencies such as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), which the PHXPD stated has shortened the turnaround time for analyzing evidence.
The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office also aided in the operation with “geographically assigned” supervisors to coordinate directly with police personnel and review gun cases to secure appropriate release conditions for the arrested individuals.
“I commend the brave Phoenix Police Officers who go out every day and face dangerous and sometimes deadly scenarios involving those who commit crimes with a gun. Those who illegally possess guns seek to disrupt the safety of our community and my office is committed to holding them accountable. I support the lawful ownership of firearms and this partnership is about prosecuting those who seek to break the law and do harm in our community,” Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell said.
The OGCC came about earlier in 2022 because of a rise in homicides. The PHXPD shared that killings involving firearms were up 45 percent in June compared to the same time last year. Aggravated assault involving guns was also up 23 percent.
“Guns are getting into the wrong hands leaving children without parents, families devastated and communities living in fear. We must do something to protect our children, our community’s officers, from gun violence,” Williams said in support of the operation.
According to the Gun Violence Archive, 300 gun-involved murders have been committed in Arizona in 2022, and nine mass shootings have occurred.
Moreover, two police officers died from gunshots in the state in 2022. White Mountain Apache Police Officer Adrian Lopez was shot and killed during a traffic stop in Whiteriver in Navajo County. Less than a month later, Yavapai County Sheriff’s Deputy Sgt. Richard Lopez died while investigating Robert McDowell, who is suspected of killing Sgt. Lopez.
A report from PBS’s “Frontline” shared how criminals may be able to get their hands on guns. One of the most common methods is a “straw purchase,” where a companion buys a firearm for someone who may be unable to do so legally. Other methods include buying guns from “corrupt” commercial gun dealers or unlicensed street dealers, on the illegal gun market, or stealing them.
Anyone with information on individuals they know who illegally possesses a gun can call the PHXPD tip line at (602) 644-5805 or email azactic.gov.
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