IMPD places more emphasis on tracing firearms used in crimes

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.– In a conference room at the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Training Academy, officers and detectives are learning about the Enhanced Ballistics Information Tracking system, which will allow them to determine if a bullet fired in a recent crime came from the same gun in a previous crime.

At the IMPD Firing Range, officers who are being training to shoot are also receiving a refresher course on how to collect evidence at the scene of gun crime so that prosecutors can send more suspects to prison.

It’s all part of department’s renewed emphasis on locking up gun suspects in the summer of 2013 as the department has made saving Indianapolis’ streets a priority.

“We do track every gun that we seize,” said Deputy Chief Bill Lorra. “We’ve seized about 1,300 guns this year and we track and trace every one of those weapons.”

U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett, who has the option of taking state gun cases to U.S. District Court where the penalties are more severe, said crime in city neighborhoods is a federal concern.

“The single most frequently asked question that I receive as the U.S. Attorney from those here in the Indianapolis community is quite simply, ‘How do are the juveniles, how are these individuals involved in gun-related crimes, how are they getting their hands on weapons?'”

The ballistics tracking system, using more sophisticated software, may help answer those questions.

“We find a bullet casing on the ground, we enter if in the system,” said Agent Arron Graves of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, “the machine does what we call a correlation. It finds the markings on the casing, connects that casing to a casing that’s been found on a previous crime scene.”

Hogsett promises more local cases stemming from IMPD’s Project Gotham, which has targeted the toughest neighborhoods and the worst offenders this summer will be prosecuted federally.