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Austin Police Seize Dozens Of Firearms Through New Gun Violence Prevention Program

Guns for sale
Miguel Gutierrez Jr.
The Austin Police Department launched the Violence Intervention Program in April, which is meant to address the recent rise in violent and gun crimes in the city.

The Austin Police Department found 78 guns possessed illegally and has made 44 arrests so far through a new program aimed at stopping the rise of violent and gun crime in the city.

The Violence Intervention Program was launched in April to improve safety in Austin by taking proactive measures, like investigating people actively engaged in ongoing violent crimes involving a gun and increasing the number of federal referrals for firearm offenses.

Violent crimes with guns went up by 47% from 2019 to 2020. Austin police say there have been 37 murders this year. That figure includes the death of Douglas John Kantor, a 25-year-old man who was shot and killed on June 12 during a shootout between teenagers on East Sixth Street. Fourteen other people were injured.

At this pace, the city could surpass the number of murders last year. Police say 45 people were killed in 2020, which represented a 34% increase from the year before.

"Our efforts to fight against violent and gun crime remain steadfast," interim Austin Police Chief Joseph Chacon said in a press release. "This is a marathon and not a sprint. We will continue to work in partnership with our community and other law enforcement agencies to keep Austin safe."

The program is in effect through the end of August.

Austin police ask anyone with information on individuals or groups who are in possession of illegal firearms, or who have committed acts of violence or other crimes involving guns, to call APD’s Crime Stoppers tip line at 512-472-8477 or use the Crime Stoppers app. Tipsters could receive a reward of up to $1,000 and will remain anonymous.

Dani Matias is a former producer and fill-in host for KUT's Morning Edition show.
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