COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — For the second time in as many weeks, Columbus city and safety leaders met with federal leaders about violence.

The most recent meeting took place Thursday while Steve Dettelbach, director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, was in town. He joined Mayor Andrew Ginther, leadership from the Department of Public Safety and Columbus police, the ATF and other federal leaders to discuss ways to reduce gun violence in the city.

“We are all committed as our number one priority to double down on our commitment to public safety. Everything we do begins and ends with that, working to make the public safer,” said Dettelbach. “That means working side by side with our partners all throughout every level of government.” 

Homicides were down 33% in 2022 compared to 2021, Ginther said. Still, all the leaders said there’s still much work to do.

“We are doing everything we can. This is our top priority,” Ginther said. “And we believe the federal government plays a critically important role in helping to make sure this community — and communities around the country — are safer and healthier, and we’re going to continue to lean into that,” said Ginther. 

The local and federal officials said a main focus is getting guns out of the hands of people who should not have them. Columbus police seized a record 3,356 guns last year, Assistant Chief LaShanna Potts said. More than 60 have been seized this month.

“These illegal guns are saturating our communities and getting into the wrong hands, leaving children without parents, families devastated, and communities living in fear,” Potts said.

Ginther announced three actions the city will take following its meeting with ATF:

  • Dedicate at least $5 million from the capital budget will go toward tools and technology related to the use of the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network. ATF runs the interstate network to compare ballistic evidence in firearm-related crimes.
  • Spend $250,000 to hire two assistant U.S. attorneys who will focus on prosecuting violent crime
  • Create a Regional Crime Gun Intelligence Center, which will include the Columbus police, other area police departments and the ATF.

“This kind of collaboration such as represented by the partners who are standing behind me is what it’s going to take to get control of illegal guns in our city,” said Robert Clark, director of the Columbus Department of Public Safety.