• Briefing may have swayed Ga. congressman about ATF sting operation


    WASHINGTON, D.C. - A Georgia congressman who recently criticized an Atlanta Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms undercover operation is now rethinking his position in light of new information.
    Chris Shaefer, the agent in charge of ATF for Georgia, said after a 2011 ATF undercover sting called ATL Blaze came under fire in a congressional oversight hearing recently, he wanted to make sure Georgia Rep. Doug Collins, who asked key questions, was armed with the right information.
    “I think some of the misconceptions that were out there have been cleared up, at least to my satisfaction at this point,” Collins told Channel 2’s Mark Winne in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday. “Congress has a role of oversight and if it’s done well, just as you do in investigative reporting, we ask questions to get answers because we’re stewards of people’s money.”

    After the hearing, Shaefer asked for and got a meeting with the congressman.
    Shaefer said ATL Blaze led to 46 indictments and more than 370 firearms taken out of the hands of criminals, calling the operation “extremely successful”
    “For all the information I have at this point, I would say that (Shaefer’s) analysis from his opinion is probably accurate,” Collins said.
    As Channel 2’s Justin Gray previously reported, Collins had alleged earlier some guns had been stolen from Atlanta area police departments and that ATF did not tell the local agencies or turn over the guns.
    “Local agencies were forced to spend time and effort and resources from testimony we’ve heard,” Collins told Gray.
    Shaefer told Winne that he does not believe that happened.
    “The Atlanta Police Department working side-by-side with us knew not only every firearm but every piece of property that was purchased,” Shaefer said.
    Shaefer said officers’ guns stolen from private cars or homes were recovered but handled properly.
    Asked about how he now feels about operation ATL Blaze, Collins has now reconsidered.
    “I think I am satisfied with what we have now. I think Agent Shaefer’s been very forthright and very open with us,” Collins said.
    “I wanted (Collins) proud of the Atlanta Police Department and the ATF here in Georgia, that we’re doing the right thing,” Shaefer said.

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