SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Beyond the headlines surrounding Sacramento's mass shooting over the weekend, there are questions about what is being done to combat gun violence in the city.
The capital city saw 57 homicides in 2021, the most since 2006. Police Chief Kathy Lester spoke with ABC10 about her gun violence prevention plan.
"I can tell you, for example, we work very closely with the ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives), a federal agency, and we have assigned some additional officers to work in partnership with that agency specifically," Lester said.
However, speaking as someone who was kicked out of high school and ended up joining the military, Chief Lester said she's also focused on youth outreach.
"I've been a very big proponent of youth programs and gang prevention programs for a long time, and I see that tied directly to this issue," Lester said.
Lester is assigning additional officers to work with the federal ATF agency to get illegal and ghost guns off the streets, prioritizing youth programs with a focus on gang prevention, partnering with existing community groups to bridge the gap between police and the neighborhood's they serve, and streamlining the process for tips from the public with things like QR codes for video submissions.
"These are not quick solutions. People need to understand these are long-term approaches," she said. "This isn't just about doing an initiative and thinking that you have solved the gun violence problem in our city, our community or our nation. There is a lot of work that needs to be done, and it needs a comprehensive long-term strategy."
Police are seizing more and more so-called ghost guns every year, with at least 400 of them being taken off the streets in 2021 alone.
"These are privately manufactured firearms, and so they are non-serialized. You can't track them back to a manufacturer," she said.
Illegal guns are also an issue. The first person arrested in connection to the mass shooting investigation, 26-year-old Dandrae Martin, was taken into custody on illegal gun charges. Martin is not facing a homicide charge.
Lester said police are working day and night to bring justice to the family of the victims.
“I think, as a police department, we need to do everything we can to bring the suspects that are involved in this type of crime to justice for those families. To give them some resolutions,” she said.
Lester said her plan is based on data-driven research, and she's committed to making sure victims get the support they need. Meanwhile, the investigation into the mass shooting continues.