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Inside the New ATF

NCJ Number
Police Chief Volume: 72 Issue: 11 Dated: November 2005 Pages: 40-44
Andrew L. Lluberes
Date Published
November 2005
5 pages
This article describes the changes in the organization and responsibilities of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) after the homeland security reorganization in January 2003.
After more than 200 years under the mantle of the U.S. Treasury Department, the ATF was moved to the Justice Department under the homeland security reorganization; and its name was changed to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; however, it retains the acronym of ATF. Currently, with nearly 5,000 employees, ATF operates 23 field divisions with 250 field and satellite offices and attaches in Canada, Colombia, and Mexico, as well as a representative at Interpol. ATF has reinstated the Directorate of Public and Governmental Affairs, including a Liaison Division responsible for maintaining ATF's partnership with State and local law enforcement agencies. As the Federal Government's lead agency on explosives, ATF now has jurisdiction over investigations of all explosives incidents that are not related to terrorism, and it maintains all of the Justice Department's consolidated arson and explosives incident databases. ATF operates the National Tracing Center, which provides leads that help local, State, and Federal law enforcement agencies in tracing firearms; the National Laboratory Center, which conducts research and forensic analyses related to firearms, explosives, arson, and alcohol and tobacco diversion; and the Canine Enforcement Training Center, which features the training of canines to detect accelerants and explosives. ATF also cooperates with local, State, and Federal agencies in implementing Project Safe Neighborhoods and the Violent Crime Impact Teams initiatives. These programs involve the coordination of multiple agencies in developing and implementing plans to counter high rates of violent crime in targeted areas.