05/12/2008

ATF chief: Crime rose as cities' funding dropped

The Associated Press

By LARA JAKES JORDAN

WASHINGTON -- The director of the ATF says violent crime has increased in some cities in part because local police are too cash-strapped to fight it.

The comments by Michael J. Sullivan, acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, echo pleas by mayors across the country for more federal dollars to combat crime.

In an interview Monday with The Associated Press, Sullivan called battling violent crime the No. 1 priority of ATF and said the agency is trying to help cities with federal task forces and technology. But Sullivan also said that many cities no longer have the police manpower to respond to calls as quickly as they once did.

The most recent crime data also indicates, however, that the overall number of violent crimes are on the downswing after increasing during the previous two years.

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