NSW Police has launched a new effort to attack gun crime with the launch of Operation Apollo.
The three-tiered approach will be led by the Middle Eastern Organised Crime Squad, in harmony with other State Crime Command squads, metropolitan regions, and local area commands.
Watch a video provided by Police Media in the lead up to the operation below:
The co-ordinated approach will build on the ongoing success of Operation Spartan, which has provided a concerted response laying 1146 charges during the past 12 months.
Operation Apollo is firmly focused on reducing shootings by removing the number of guns in the affected communities through:
- Increased high-visibility policing in known trouble spots;
- Specialist teams targeting known and suspected criminals;
- Criminal investigations delivering greater investigative capacity via centralised and shared intelligence gathering.
Drive-by and other targeted public place shootings will not only see an immediate response at the local level, Middle Eastern Organised Crime officers will also attend to co-ordinate the broader police response.
Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione says the community, particularly the community of south western Sydney, has sent a clear message that they want the gun violence to stop.
“We have an obligation to the community to do everything in our power to do what we can to address this problem. I am confident these new arrangements will provide a significant boost to our efforts,” Commissioner Scipione said.
“By giving MEOCS an overarching role, we will be able to build a far more cohesive intelligence picture of the problem. That is absolutely critical.
“Importantly, MEOCS also has the existing structure of uniformed police, highway patrol and investigative capacity to disrupt those carrying guns and investigate gun crime.
“Equally, they also have the community’s support to deal with this problem.
“That relationship is critical in removing these weapons from the streets. We are seeing some healthy signs with investigators receiving a very helpful level of cooperation from community members.
“This is resulting in important information in solving crimes and other information that is resulting in guns being removed from those who shouldn’t have them.
“I can assure members of those communities that we are listening and we will consult with you and we will keep consulting,” he said.
Head of Operation Apollo, Detective Superintendant Arthur Katsogiannis, says communities affected by gun crime can expect to see police on the streets patrolling and being proactive.
“If you are carrying guns, you can expect to be pulled over and relieved of your weapons. Our police are going to get their hands dirty and we make no apologies for that,” Det Supt Katsogiannis said.
“While MEOCS have overarching carriage of Operation Apollo, all squads in our Organised Crime Directorate will have a role to play, in conjunction with our local police on the ground. “Operation Spartan” will continue its work in investigating and disrupting criminal groups.
“This not only involves targeting criminals but also safe storage compliance for those who hold firearms legitimately,” Det Supt Katsogiannis said.
Commissioner Scipione says police have been working very hard to combat gun crime and that’s evidenced by the number of weapons seized each year and the overall gun crime figures being steady over time.
“But numbers aren’t great comfort for those living in communities where gun crime exists and we are never satisfied that we have done enough or that we can’t do things differently,” Commissioner Scipione said.
Operation Apollo has already begun its work: to date it has seized 35 weapons including 24 handguns.