ROCKY MOUNT, N.C. (WNCN) – U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina Michael Easley announced a new multi-agency initiative to combat violent crime in the Rocky Mount area. The new Violent Crime Action Plan includes a task force of local, state and federal law enforcement.

“Since April 30, Rocky Mount has seen four homicides and three other shootings, including one earlier this week that wounded an innocent 9-year-old boy,” Easley said. “Our state, local and federal partners are committed to doing all we can, in conjunction with community stakeholders, to stop this wave of gun violence.”

He added the biggest priority is getting illegal guns off the streets and holding those responsible for the violence accountable.

The VCAP includes major agencies such as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Agency, Homeland Security Investigations and the United States Marshal’s Service.

Over the weekend, officials in Rocky Mount declared a state of emergency as a result of the increase in violence. The declaration will allow the department to receive access to federal and state funds and resources.

“The ATF stands with the Rocky Mount community in its push against gun violence. We are bringing our resources and expertise for a systematic and coordinated effort to target the most violent offenders on the streets,” Assistant Special Agent in Charge Anthony Spotswood of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said.

Additionally, the Nash County Sheriff’s Office and the Edgecombe County Sheriff’s Office will both devote officers to VCAP. 

Prosecutors from the Seventh Judicial District Attorney’s Office and the U.S. Attorney’s Office are also part of the initiative.

“The Nash County Sheriff’s Office is dedicated to safer communities by enforcement of gang, gun and drug violations,” Nash County Sheriff Keith Stone said.

A 3-pronged approach

The Department of Justice said VCAP would be a three-pronged approach to combat this initiative. It would focus on strategic enforcement, inter-agency coordination and intelligence-led policing, as well as community engagement.

But what does that mean?

Focused and Strategic Enforcement: 

  • Designating lead prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s Office and District Attorney’s Office to prioritize the review of all gun crime cases with local and federal law enforcement for accelerated action;  
  • Sustained, proactive, and coordinated efforts to identify and prosecute the most significantly violent repeat offenders and dangerous criminal organizations in the Rocky Mount area;  
  • Focusing on the sources of crime guns, including the prosecution of gun traffickers, straw purchasers, suppliers of guns to juveniles, and those using non-serialized “ghost guns” in crimes. 

Inter-Agency Coordination and Intelligence-Led Policing: 

  • Analyzing crime data to identify trends, patterns, and “hot spots” to deploy resources where they are needed most; 
  • Leveraging federal Task Force Officers to bring federal technology and resources to address local gun violence;
  • Increasing the use of Crime Gun Intelligence (CGI) through the ATF’s National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN) to identify and prosecute the serial trigger-pullers driving gun violence in local communities.   

Community Engagement: 

  • Raising awareness through youth education. EDNC is working with the Rocky Mount Police Department to introduce programs, such as “Educating Kids about Gangs and Guns,” into Nash and Edgecombe County Schools in hopes of engaging students, law enforcement and educators in life-saving conversations;    
  • Engaging with local offender re-entry programs, such as the Nash Edgecombe Wilson Re-entry Council, in its ongoing work to help returning citizens successfully reintegrate into society following incarceration through employment, transportation, and housing-related support;
  • Meaningful community engagement by law enforcement, hearing from the communities most affected by violence to better partner in stopping it through supporting prevention, intervention, and reentry services.