LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Federal authorities, Louisville Metro Police and other local law enforcement agencies announced a surge of arrests Friday in what they say is the latest effort to reduce violent crime in the Commonwealth of Kentucky, and Jefferson County in particular.

In total, 23 arrests were made as part of the operation.

Standing behind a table displaying more than 20 confiscated firearms, authorities praised the officers and agents who took part in the surge.

"What you see before you -- these weapons are just a small amount of what our officers encounter each and every day," said LMPD Chief Steve Conrad. "This past year, our officers took over 1,900 guns off the streets of our community. These are being carried by people who are prohibited to possess firearms. These are weapons that have been in the hands of dangerous criminals that would use these weapons in a heartbeat."

Commonwealth's Attorney Thomas Wine said his office has changed the way it prosecutes convicted felons who are caught possessing firearms.

"We think it's important that we send a strong message to the community," Wine said. "So about a year ago, our office started treating possession of a handgun by a convicted felon different than it had been before. It was a culture change, because before, that charge was usually amended down to possession of a firearm and carried a lesser penalty. We no longer amend those charges down."

Members of law enforcement said at the conference they were grateful to have the support of the community during this new push. U.S. Attorney Russell Coleman said that support has been expressed in ways that are both numerous and intentional.

"One of the more compelling anecdotes I've heard in the last couple of days, is when officers went out to arrest one of the individuals that we've charged," Coleman said. "They were surrounding the house. We had three neighbors come up to these officers and thank them. Three neighbors stopped their vehicles, came up to officers and said, 'Thank you.'"

According to a news release, the arrests are the result of Project Safe Neighborhood, described as, "an active and ongoing effort to reduce violent crime by removing illegal firearms, and those felons who are in possession of illegal firearms, from the streets of Louisville and other metropolitan communities in the Commonwealth."

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