PHOENIX — The Phoenix Police Department has announced plans to curb gun violence in Phoenix.
The department teamed with Maricopa County and other federal law enforcement agencies for the pilot program, Operation Gun Crime Crackdown, which was announced Wednesday.
"Any time federal and local law enforcement works together, it is a good thing," said Andy Anderson, former assistant chief at Phoenix PD. "We have to do something. The violent crime is out of control right now."
Homicides with firearms are up about 45% compared to this time last year, according to Phoenix police officials, while aggravated assaults with firearms are up about 23%.
It’s an issue Phoenix PD says is not unique to Arizona and is happening across the United States.
"Guns are getting into the wrong hands leaving children without parents, families devastated and communities living in fear. We must do something to protect our children, our community's officers, from gun violence," said Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams.
The program is designed to focus on gun-related crimes and follow-ups with the goal of identifying and arresting suspects.
The neighborhoods with the high gun-related crimes will be assigned to a group of 10 detectives who will work with Neighborhood Enforcement Teams and patrol officers to gather information.
Officials also announced the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has agreed to embed agents with Phoenix's Gun Crime Intelligence Unit which will allow quick access to the National Intelligence Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN) to assist in capturing and comparing ballistic evidence to aid in solving and preventing violent crimes involving firearms.
Earlier this month, nine people were shot at a party at 10th Avenue and Hatcher Road. Police said a handgun was fired into a crowd after an argument.
The ages of the victims range from 14 to 24. A 14-year-old named Emily Morgan died from her injuries at the hospital.
ABC15 spoke to Morgan's parents, they say through tears that they're daughter was creative and full of ambition.
"She didn't want this," said Morgan's mom Jennifer Keely. "She didn't want to die young."
"We watch our door every night and wait for her to walk through it still," said the teen's dad, Gabe Keely.
Today her family begged for the community to help them get justice.
Nine teens were shot in less than a month in Phoenix, and city leaders said there have been six surprise attacks on Phoenix officers in the last six months.
"Plain and simple, we have to do something," said Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams.
ABC15 asked how the tipline will help others, Sgt. Phil Krynsky says, "It's going to be the research to make sure that we have these people identified, criminal background checks, sharing information with our federal partners as well."
Program leaders are also encouraging people to call 911 if they hear gunfire in their neighborhood.
"I think this will evolve. This is a good first step," said Anderson. "I think... or I hope this will generate a lot of calls."