PHOENIX (AP) - The feds are ready to help launch a crackdown on gun-toting criminals walking the streets.
The program is called Project Safe Neighborhoods and it will target guns and violence and will result in tough mandatory sentences, many of them in out-of-state federal prisons.
The Phoenix Police Department is the first in the state to embrace the national program, which was announced this year by the Bush administration, said Phoenix police Chief Harold Hurtt.
"Last year in Phoenix, we had 245 homicides, up from 172 the previous year," Hurtt said. "We cannot let it go any higher. We have to take some very aggressive action."
Under the program, people who use firearms to commit crimes may be prosecuted under federal gun laws that mandate five-year prison sentences, and possibly up to 10 if other crimes are involved, said Paul Charlton, the U.S. attorney for Arizona.
The program kicks into gear in three to four weeks.