Last year, Justice Department leaders turned to B. Todd Jones to serve as acting director of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. His mission: to turn the bureau around amid congressional investigations of the Fast and Furious probe that have shaken ATF to its core. “Yes, we are under the microscope, so to speak,” Jones told NPR. Jones has put in place a monthly oversight program for big investigations, designed for cases where at least 50 firearms appear to have been purchased illegally. He laid down limits on how ATF agents operate undercover and how they deal with confidential informants. “We’ve made it clear if there were any questions at all that public safety trumps any firearms transfer,” Jones said.
Jones has replaced six out of his eight top assistant directors at Washington headquarters. He has tried to promote a new generation of leaders all over the U.S. “It’s really been a historic transformation, and it’s really been an opportunity for us to [ ] cherry pick our best and brightest,” he says. Five ATF managers who were blasted by House Republicans in their report on Fast and Furious still work in the federal government. Jones said he’s focused on what he can change, sending agents surging to work with state and local police in places where violent crime has ticked up, thanks to gangs or hard-core criminals who are “terrorizing” neighborhoods in Oakland, Calif., New Orleans, Philadelphia and Flint, Mi.