Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $86,763)
Firearms trafficking has become an issue in the Northern District of West Virginia. Trafficking is profitable because of the disparity in firearm laws in different jurisdictions. Firearms, particularly stolen firearms are increasingly being seized during the execution of search warrants in drug prosecutions and pursuant to routine traffic stops. Aggressive enforcement in these situations requires a collaborative effort between state and federal law enforcement. It also requires the expenditure of resources to conduct a full and complete investigation (especially when dealing with a stolen firearm).
The United States Attorney' s Office for the Northern District of West Virginia, in partnership with the prosecuting attorneys in Ohio County, Brooke County, WV and Hancock County, WV, seeks to implement an enhanced prosecution presence to address these and all other gun crimes in the Northern Panhandle of West Virginia. The proposed plan is to provide funding for the purpose of paying an assistant county prosecutor (who will also be sworn in as a Special Assistant United States Attorney (SAUSA) for the NDWV) to collaborate with state and federal law enforcement to develop gun prosecutions. By having a presence at both the federal and state level it is hoped that all potential cases will be assessed by the SAUSA as a liaison and clearinghouse.
The PSN funds will be used to pay for the additional time the SAUSA will have to devote to this initiative in order to service the entire Northern Panhandle (not just the county through which they are employed). As part of the initiative, the SAUSA along with other members of the USAO/NDWV and representatives of the ATF, will provide training to law enforcement officers about the basics of building a gun case beginning with best practices concerning the initial encounter with the unlawful possessor/purchaser. Evidence gathering and preservation will be emphasized. The training will also encompass and encourage the need to consult with federal partners and work in cooperation to pursue the matter through disposition in the Federal Court.