One important law enforcement agency in the U.S. is the ATF, which exists to protect citizens from four major criminal acts: firearms, alcohol and tobacco, explosives and arson.
To better serve the community, the ATF partners with other law enforcement agencies to combine resources, such as information and technology. Agents also train explosive detection canines to find evidence while investigating violent crime scenes, or in locating weapons. The canines work with the agents to secure buildings.
After the 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Centers and the Pentagon, President George W. Bush signed a new law which formed the Homeland Security Act of 2002. Since then, this department has arrested around 10,000 annually for illegal firearms possession. The ATF works with community organizations such as Project Safe Neighborhoods and credit this collaboration for reducing violent crimes.
Two of their most famous cases occurred in 2013 within weeks of each other. They investigated the Boston Marathon bombing and an explosion in a fertilizer plant in Texas that flattened a large section of the town. In the Boston investigation, the department worked hand-in-hand with the FBI and Boston police. Agents secured the evidence, analyzed it to determine the type of explosives that were used and exactly how they were detonated. The ATF agents also played a significant investigative role in the 1995 Oklahoma Bombing.
An infamous incident occurred in April 1993, in which the ATF was heavily criticized in the standoff between the U.S. Government and the Branch Davidians in Waco, TX. It began two months earlier when 70 agents participated in a raid at the complex. The Davidians were suspected of storing a vast arsenal of high powered weapons and explosives. Soon after their arrival, a shootout began and 4 ATF agents were killed.
While all of this is important to note, most of their cases aren’t so dramatic. However, with each one they garner extensive information about how to better protect citizens. This article serves to educate you on the ATF, one of the most important protection agencies in the country. These agents work tirelessly to help maintain our freedom by ridding the streets of illegal weapons and the criminals that use and sell them.