ATF Snapshot 1998
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) is a law enforcement organization within the United States Department of the Treasury. Its unique responsibilities include, but are not limited to, protecting the public, reducing violent crime, and collecting revenue. With the cooperation of others, ATF enforces the federal laws and regulations relating to alcohol, tobacco products, firearms, explosives, and arson. Also, the ATF prides itself for being instrumental in:
- Suppressing and preventing crime and violence through enforcement, regulation, and community outreach.
- Ensuring fair and effective revenue collection.
- Providing fair and effective industry regulation.
- Supporting and assisting Federal, State, local, and international law enforcement.
- Providing innovative training programs in support of enforcement and regulatory functions.
ATF's jurisdiction and specialized expertise applied through enforcement, regulation, and community outreach is uniquely valuable to the public particularly through its impact on firearms and explosives-related violence
- ATF's Arson and Explosives Task Forces provide vital resources to local communities in the wake of arson and explosives incidents. Arson: During the period 1990-1997, ATF forwarded 2,158 arson cases, with 3,974 defendants for prosecution. During FY-98, ATF forwarded 245 arson cases with 426 defendants for prosecution. From 1995-1998, while heading the National Church Arson Task Force (NCATF), ATF conducted 711 arson/bombing/attempted-bombing investigations nationwide, at houses of worship. As a result, the "solve rate" was twice the national average for arson. Explosives: From 1990-1997, ATF forwarded 2,067 explosives cases with 3,522 defendants for prosecution. During FY-98, ATF forwarded 183 explosives cases with 337 defendants for prosecution. In addition, ATF's Certified Fire Investigators investigated 1,628 fire-related incidents.
- ATF's Achilles Program concentrates on identifying and removing the most dangerous, armed career criminals and drug traffickers from our communities. Through the effective use of the Federal Firearms Laws and mandatory sentencing, defendants are incarcerated for longer periods of time. Ultimately this prevents their future involvement in crimes of violence and the costs associated with those crimes. From FY-88 through FY-98, ATF has produced 22,447 Achilles cases recommending 31,851 defendants for prosecution.
- Criminal Firearms Trafficking - No other agency features the interdependent assets that make ATF the most effective in addressing criminal firearms trafficking. These assets include investigative and regulatory expertise, technical/forensic services, public/industry education, statutory jurisdiction, and use of the National Tracing Center and Project Lead. ATF's Firearms Trafficking Program reduces armed violent crime by identifying and prosecuting those individuals who are illegally supplying firearms to violent criminals, gang offenders, and youths.
From FY-96 through FY-98, ATF has recommended 6,406 defendants for prosecution.
- The National Tracing Center is the only organization of its kind in the United States. It assists state and local law enforcement agencies in solving violent crimes. Through innovations in technology, the Center has substantially reduced the time it takes to conduct a firearms trace. In 1994, the average firearm's tracer conducted 2,500 traces per year. In 1997, increased productivity brought the average tracing rate to over 6,000 per year. Approximately 189,486 traces were completed in 1998.
- ATF's Youth Crime Gun Interdiction Initiative (YCGII) uses the expertise of our special agents, inspectors, local police, and the NTC to identify and investigate the illegal sales of guns to youth/juveniles and to shut down traffickers. YCGII is currently funded and operating in 27 cities nationwide. In FY-98, there have been 350 investigations in those cities. Additional cities are scheduled for funding in FY-2000.
- ATF is involved with protecting the consumer by preventing false or misleading claims on alcohol beverage labels (over 60,000 labels reviewed each year), along with ensuring the safe storage of explosive materials (ATF inspectors identified and resolved over 1,000 public safety violations involving improperly stored explosives in FY 98).
- G.R.E.A.T. (Gang Resistance Education and Training) is designed to decrease gang activity across our nation. The curriculum is taught to fourth and seventh graders by ATF agents and uniformed police officers. As of November 1998, 3,529 police officers from more than 1,300 law enforcement agencies were trained as G.R.E.A.T. instructors. Since 1991, more than 1.5 million school children in 50 states, 3 countries, and 5 provinces have participated in the program.
- ATF's Firearms Licensing Program joins with State and local authorities to ensure that the 104,855 Federal Firearms Licensees (FFLs) operate in compliance with federal, state, and local laws.
ATF “Pays Its Own Way” through effective tax collection, regulation, and enforcement
- In FY-97, with a budget of approximately $574 million, ATF collected approximately $12.7 billion in revenue.
- ATF revenue inspections disclosed an additional $3.6 million in unreported excise tax. ATF also assessed approximately $600,000 in excise taxes on products (alcohol beverages and tobacco) illegally diverted from original destinations.
- ATF works effectively through task forces with other federal, state and local agencies. Cases are developed for prosecution in the appropriate jurisdiction -- federal or state.
- ATF's cooperative effort with the FBI proved instrumental when solving the World Trade Center and the Murrah Federal Building bombings. This team effort continues with ongoing investigations such as the Centennial Park bombing and the abortion clinic bombings in Atlanta and Birmingham.
- ATF sponsors industry seminars to communicate with and solicit the unique concerns of all. This team approach is being used by ATF as it leads the explosive study mandated by Congress in the 1996 Anti-Terrorism Legislation.
ATF advances new and innovative methods to increase productivity and effectiveness
- Accredited by the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors, ATF's National Laboratories and Forensic and Technical Services provide services and specialized expertise in the areas of alcohol, firearms, explosives, and arson.
- Under the National Integrated Ballistics Information Network (NIBIN), ATF utilizes a "state of the art" system that sllows firearms technicians to digitize and automatically correlate and compare bullet and shell casing signatures. This system has proved very beneficial to state and local law enforcement agencies experiencing firearms related violence.
- ATF's Canine Detection Program has successfully developed a method of training canines to detect explosives, fire accelerants, and spent cartridge cases. ATF has trained 160 canine teams deployed in eight countries worldwide, eight of which are strategically placed in the United States.
- ATF is electronically linking its services with its nationwide users. Links from local police departments and certain manufacturers to the ATF National Tracing Center is increasing the speed and efficiency of firearm traces.
- ATF's Bomb Research Project is yielding important information relative to explosives signature, blast effect, post-blast problem, debris distance, and residue retrieval.
- ATF's 4 National Response Teams (NRTs) can respond within 24 hours to suspected bombing and arson scenes in the United States. These teams combine agents, explosive specialists, forensic scientists, and technical specialists. At arson scenes, ATF also deploys cause and origin specialists, auditors and specially trained canines. ATF's International Response Team (IRT), formed as a result of an agreement with the State Department, has been deployed 14 times in countries such as Peru, Argentina, Pakistan, El Salvador, and Macedonia.
- ATF is advancing the use of computerized fire modeling to calculate the physics and functioning of a fire. Computer modeling, a relatively new tool to law enforcement, has proved successful in the courtroom to verify witness testimony.
- As a result of ATF's response to a Congressional mandate in the 1997 Omnibus Consolidation Appropriations Act, the Treasury Department has authorized ATF to establish a national repository of information on incidents involving arson and explosives. Development of the National Repository continues and the system should be in operation late calendar year 1999.
ATF receives highest rating by Inspector General
- For the last 4 years, a Treasury IG auditor has awarded ATF the highest rating possible for having a strong financial internal control structure and a solid record for complying with laws and regulations.