In an effort to stop the flow of illegal guns contributing to Chicago violence, a new 50-person gun investigations team within the Chicago Police Department will focus on halting the third-party purchase of firearms, Supt. David Brown announced Monday.
The team will conduct mid- and high-level investigations into gun traffickers and straw purchases, fueled in part by tips coming from a new tip hotline, announced by Mayor Lori Lightfoot last week, offering up to $1 million in rewards.
Tips on illegal gun purchases or illegal guns connected to violent crimes can be submitted via cpdtip.com, Brown said. The department is working on a structure in which tipsters can be anonymous and still receive the reward.
Brown touted 6,629 guns retrieved so far this year from city streets by Chicago police officers, a 26 percent increase from the same time period last year, and 3,264 gun arrests.
The new team won't look to replace this effort, but rather stop guns from being purchased by third parties so guns never hit the streets.
"'Do not buy guns for violent people' is our message," Brown said. "Or you will pay the price for them by doing what we hope to be serious time for your blood money. It's blood money. Whatever they're paying you to go buy these guns -- the $500 or whatever the $1,000 -- it's blood money and blood is on your hands. And we're coming for you."
Over the weekend, six people were injured at a post-graduation party in the city's Austin neighborhood. A 12 year old, two 14 year olds, a 15 year old and two 19 year olds were struck in a drive-by shooting, Chief of Detectives Brendan Deenihan said.
Deenihan said there currently is no motive for the shooting and no evidence that those injured were involved in criminal activity.
"It's an extremely tragic and unfortunate incident," Deenihan said, noting that guns taken off the streets might have prevented it.
Brown said the new gun investigations team will work in conjunction with the "strike force" teams that are set to be deployed by the federal government to help combat gun violence in the coming weeks and months.
"Chicago can't wait for the strike force. We have to do everything we can from a law enforcement perspective to take guns off the streets from violent people," he said.
President Joe Biden announced the decision to deploy the strike force teams earlier this summer. According to the Biden administration, the strike force teams will coordinate with the ATF, and will work to combat gun trafficking, which Lightfoot and Brown have blamed for the proliferation of illegal guns into the city.
The strike force teams will be deployed to several major cities, including Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.
Brown has said that the deployment of strike forces will coincide with increases in funding for a variety of other initiatives and programs, and that he hopes the approach will pay dividends.
Brown said the tip line will be staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week.