FBI director to Indianapolis cops: Feds can help fight gun crimes

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (April 30, 2014)– FBI Director James Comey met with local law enforcement officials at the Bureau’s Indianapolis headquarters and told them federal agents can help in the local battle against gun crimes.

“I’ve done a lot of gun enforcement work in my career,” said Comey after emerging from a behind-closed-doors meeting with police chiefs from throughout the metro area. “I believe it is essential to be agressive to separate the felon and the drug dealer from the firearm.

“We continue to do work that involves jamming people up for being felons in possession of weapons. That’s how we make the more complex cases by squeezing those people and working up the ladder.”

Monday morning Metro police officers wounded Manuel Staples, 23, who was armed with a semi-automatic rifle as he approached a group of employees outside of an eastside convenience store. Staples is a twice-convicted armed robber. He caught his first case when he was 16-years-old and would now seem to be a prime candidate for federal prosecution as a felon with a firearm.

“This year our homicide victims and suspects have been about 85% in trouble with the law before,” said Public Safety Director Troy Riggs after meeting with Comey. “Almost 50% of them have used a weapon before in a crime. Your police department is doing a better job of locking them up. We need to do a better job of keeping them in there long-term.”

IMPD Chief Rick Hite said the FBI is lending more assistance to his detectives.

“The federal guidelines are somewhat different than the state guidelines and what we’re going now is training our detectives and supervisors at so how to view cases with a prosecutor’s eye but also viewing toward a federal prosecution as well.”

Federal gun convictions carry tougher sentences and offenders serve 85% of their full term as opposed to state convictions which may result in an offender serving less than half his or her sentence.

Comey said that the Bureau’s Indianapolis agents are at the forefront of the FBI’s cyber crimes investigations and that despite last year’s revelations about electronic data gathering by the National Security Agency, the FBI complies with federal guidelines in its acquisition of such information.

“I believe that people should be suspicious of government power,” said Comey. “I am. I think this country was founded by people who were and worried so much about the people in power that they divided the power among three branches so folks should question government power.”

“When we’re gathering information from someone’s emails or the content of someone’s telephone conversations, we do it with a court order, having made a showing of probable cause to a federal judge. We are tightly overseen. Those details matter.”