What To Know Today

NEW from THE TRACE: Poughkeepsie is bringing therapy directly to city streets. SNUG Street Outreach is one of several programs nationwide that strives to use mental health interventions to decrease gun violence. What makes the New York program unique is its approach to delivering services to residents — instead of trying to bring people into a traditional clinical setting, therapists meet patients in the street. In a new piece, Ann Givens spotlights the program’s rollout in Poughkeepsie and some of its staff, who despite the immensely difficult work believe the model is essential for a small city that has buckled under elevated violence. “There’s so much trauma in these communities, and so much healing that needs to be done,” said Erika Mendelsohn, the statewide social work director for SNUG. “This is a first step toward addressing it.” 

Farewell, Ann! This was one of her last pieces as a Trace reporter before she heads off to become WNYC’s Public Safety Editor. We wish her the best and hope you follow her work there.

A retired undercover FBI agent offers an inside look at far-right groups. Scott B., who didn’t give his last name to protect his family’s privacy, spoke with Rolling Stone about infiltrating some of America’s most notorious groups. The former agent described breaking up numerous hate-fueled plots, including a plan by a South Carolina man who allegedly sought to mimic the 2015 Charleston church shooting. The piece offers a particularly detailed and alarming look at Scott’s last operation, the infiltration of the neo-Nazi group The Base. After months under cover, Scott tipped off the FBI to a plot by members who allegedly amassed an arsenal of guns and planned to commit violence and foment civil war at a January 2020 gun rights rally in Richmond, Virginia. All told, the FBI charged 11 Base members after Scott’s operation. “We’re in a business where we can’t be wrong once,” said Scott. “And there’s way more of them than us undercovers.”

Chuck Schumer calls for $1.5B anti-gun trafficking crackdown. During a Sunday news conference, the Democratic Senate Majority Leader announced his intention to use the next federal budget negotiations to earmark the money for the ATF’s budget. By doing so, Schumer wants to interdict guns traveling on the so-called Iron Pipeline, the East Coast interstate corridor that is one of the nation’s biggest trafficking routes. Schumer’s call comes about a week after a man fatally shot two NYPD officers in a Harlem apartment; police said the gun he carried was reported stolen in Baltimore in 2017. ICYMI: The Democrats’ dilemma on gun violence. For our Weekly newsletter, I wrote about the political risks that elevated violence poses for mainstream Democrats and the twin goals of public safety and criminal justice reform.

As gun violence increased last year, so too did gun recoveries in many major cities. A new CNN report found that police agencies in several of the country’s biggest cities recovered near decade-high numbers of guns in 2021. Of eight big-city departments that responded to CNN’s request for data, all had more gun recoveries last year than in 2020. Meanwhile, more large departments also reported an uptick in untraceable, DIY ghost guns. Related from The Trace: The piece also discusses “time-to-crime” figures published by the ATF, which we first reported on last month, showing that guns sold in 2020 were more likely to wind up at crime scenes within a year than in any previous period. Experts view a short time-to-crime as an indicator that a gun was purchased with criminal intent.

Data Point

$15.2 milion — New Jersey’s latest allotment of American Rescue Plan funds for two kinds of violence prevention strategies: $8.2 million in grants for 25 community-violence intervention nonprofits; and $7 million to deploy gunshot detection technology and other equipment for law enforcement. [NJ.com]