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ATF Launches New Initiative To Get Guns Off Baltimore Streets; Targeting Violent Felons, Drug Dealers

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- After a night of violence in the city of Baltimore, city police commissioner Michael Harrison announced an initiative that's targeting the people who create violence on city streets.

The announcement came less than an hour after another deadly shooting, where a 41-year-old was gunned down in Northeast Baltimore- the 115th murder in 2019.

Law enforcement officials now aim to put shooters behind bars before they can pull the trigger.

"We have to go after the individuals who are carrying the guns, out the door with the guns,"

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) launched a new program to curb gun violence in Baltimore City. The initiative, which began Monday, will target violent, repeat offenders.

The ATF has placed seven billboards strategically around the city to promote a reward program that incentivizes people for information that would lead to the arrests of felons, drug dealers and others who possess and use guns in violent crimes.

The phone number on the billboards connects to a call center where ATF field agents said callers can remain anonymous and bring in a high-dollar reward.

Residents can call 1-888-ATF-TIPS to provide information to federal investigators.  They should have details about what the person looks like, where they are and if there's a weapon on them.

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"If a life of violence is the life you choose, then prison will certainly be a price you pay," said BPD Commissioner Michael Harrison.

The billboards will run through the holiday weekend and into the Fourth of July weekend.

"It takes time, but we're unified," Harrison said.

The ATF wants to specifically target individuals who choose to harm others and believe that most don't fear going to jail.

"We want to remove that level of comfort for them," the ATF director said.

Law enforcement claims success with the initiative in other cities.

"Far too many people are getting shot and killed in our city," U.S. Attorney Robert Hur said, saying they will work to make Baltimore safer by keeping violent offenders off the streets.

But ATF field agent Rob Cekada said ultimately it will take the public's help to close critical investigations into illegal weapons and make the streets safer.

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