Addressing employees at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales unveiled a comprehensive crime prevention legislation package geared to strengthen federal laws targeting violent criminals. Part of the Department's expanding crime fighting package included the addition of four new cities as members of the Violent Crime Impact Team (VCIT) initiative.

"Keeping America's neighborhoods safe is one of the central functions of government at all levels," says Gonzales. "Today's new task forces are a part of our expanded efforts and commitment by the Department of Justice to support state and local law enforcement in the fight against violent crime. The legislation we have proposed today will make it easier for federal investigators and prosecutors to take dangerous criminals off the streets and put them behind bars for longer."

The VCIT initiative combines innovative technology, analytical, and investigative resources and an integrated federal, state, and local law enforcement strategy to identify, disrupt, arrest, and prosecute the most violent criminals in select cities across the nation. Launched in 2004, the initiative's primary goal is to reduce the number of homicides and other violent crimes committed with firearms in targeted communities throughout the country.

"ATF looks forward to taking the success we and our partners have achieved to these additional VCIT cities," says ATF Acting Director Michael J. Sullivan. "This is a program that works and brings the best resources of federal, state, and local law enforcement to bear on violent crime."

The new cities include Mesa, Ariz.; Orlando,Fla.; San Bernardino, Calif.; and San Juan, Puerto Rico. A total of 29 cities participate in the program.

In other news, Gonzales expanded the FBI's Safe Streets Task Force program to include Orlando, Fla. A nationwide Task Force targeting gangs and violent crime comprising local state and federal investigators, the program represents more than 500 law enforcement agencies throughout the United States.

The Attorney General also proposed stricter legislation for the Department of Justice's Violent Crime and Anti-Terrorism Act of 2007 that would amend the existing Act to ensure that federal law enforcement agencies are able to successfully investigate and prosecute violent crime.

The proposed bill strengthens penalties, provides greater flexibility in the penalties that could be imposed on federal firearms licensees who violate the Gun Control Act, and restores the binding nature of sentencing guidelines. Additionally, the bill seeks to strengthen laws pertaining to drug enforcement, terrorism, and child pornography.