Mesa is a fast-growing Arizona city that faces so much gun-related violent crime that it has brought in the federal government to help, the Christian Science Monitor reports. The Violent Crime Impact Team (VCIT) of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is working with Mesa and 28 other cities to reduce gun-related crime. In Mesa, as elsewhere, there are early signs of success. The number of violent crimes in the city fell 24 percent for the May-July period this year compared with the same period a year ago.
Developed by the US Attorney General’s office in 2004, the VCIT aims to reduce the numbers of homicides and other violent crimes committed with guns in cities that have a high and rising level of violent crime. Criminologist Jack Levin of Northeastern University says that “many of these cities are impoverished and don’t have the resources to fight crime in a realistic way.” Mesa, whose population of 447,500 is spread over 132 square miles, has a burgeoning gang problem that has spilled out onto the streets. The murder total more than doubled last year – 20 compared with nine in 2005. Last year’s violent-crime rate reached 51 per 1,000 residents – higher than even Los Angeles’s rate of 32 per 1,000.