PENSACOLA, Ala. (WALA) - Escambia County Sheriff's Deputies and Pensacola Police Officers now have a lot more help cracking down on gun crimes.
It's all thanks to a new initiative they've put together joining local, state and federal law enforcement agencies.
Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan said they've planned the measure for months.
"Criminals don't respect boundaries anywhere, whether that's in Pensacola or Escambia County. That's why we've got a group together we're calling our Crime Response Team," said Morgan.
Authorities said the team will include deputies and police officers as well as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, The FBI and the U.S. Marshals.
They said the initiative will help the agencies collaborate, increasing communication and allowing them to pool resources.
"The goals are simple: to identify, to gather intelligence on gun related crimes and to put people in jail. So long in fact that by the time they get out, I hope the guns they were using are considered antiques. That's how serious we are," Police Chief Chip Simmons said.
A recent rash of shootings in the area prompted the move.
State Attorney Bill Eddins said his office will aggressively pursue charges against those arrested by the Crime Response Team.
"We will plea bargain cases only when it's necessary to gain additional information or if we have difficulty proving a case. We are going to take a very strong stand on these cases," Eddins said.
Chief Simmons said the additional manpower will be invaluable.
"It gives us that many more people out there to investigate, find witnesses and solve crimes. We'll have a great heads up the next time a crime does occur," said Simmons.
Still, officials said they know they have a hard task ahead of them.
"It's clear to us that our best efforts are never going to stop gun violence. Our goal is to be as effective as we can be and control it as significantly as we can," Eddins said.
Officials said there is no time table on when the initiative will end.
Authorities hope the measure will encourage cooperation with law enforcement.
If you have any information, you can stay anonymous by contacting the Gulf Coast Crime Stoppers at (850) 433-STOP.
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