Newly established South Bay task force aims to reduce gun violence

A new task force aims to reduce gun violence, by targeting the worst offenders.

It's a joint venture between the San Jose Police Department and Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office. 

And they're already getting guns off the streets, including high-powered assault rifles and manufactured "ghost" guns.

San Jose Police Chief Eddie Garcia says, "We're seeing more and more fully automatic weapons out in the street. Just recently we confiscated a glock pistol that was converted to actually fire fully auto."

The Priority Gun Offender Task Force started by studying the data they had.

Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen says, "We spent a year looking at gun crime in our county. And while there's more of it than what we would like, it's being committed by a small number of offenders."

And so the task force has begun to track them down one by one.

There have been a dozen arrests so far, with cash and drugs confiscated too.

Rosen says, "We're trying to limit the number of shootings. So instead of there being four or five shootings by a prolific gun offender, we get them after the first one."

Garcia adds, "We want to do that by being very surgical about the way we target the activity that leads to shootings in San Jose."

The crime lab plays an integral role in linking those cases. They're analzying every gun and shell casing that comes in then inputting that information into a national database.

Rosen says, "That helps us to solve gun crimes because it links different shootings that we ordinarily would not have been able to link."

And authorities say, armed with that kind of information, this task force is already making a big impact.

"Every gun and every criminal possessing that gun that we take off the street saves a life. That's not overstating the fact, it saves a life," says Garcia.

Since the soft launch of the task force in October, they've confiscated 18 guns in seven sting operations, but they say the real marker of success will be if gun violence numbers go down at the end of the year.