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Save-A-Cop gun tracking program aids federal cases

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INDIANPOLIS, Ind. -- An innovative program to track gun evidence at the scene of the crime is aiding state and federal prosecutors in their efforts to send violent felons to prison.

The Operation Save-A-Cop investigative technique was developed by IMPD detectives assigned to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and enhances the training and response of investigators called out to process a weapon found at a crime scene or during a traffic stop.

“ATF has done a lot of good work with their Save-A-Cop program,” said U.S. Attorney Josh Minkler. “They’ve worked with patrol officers and guys on the street that when they find somebody with a gun, they know how to handle it, how to process it, prints, DNA, stuff that really helps get a conviction in federal court.”

Minkler said his office, working in conjunction with IMPD, has had great success in the last year prosecuting defendants from local cases in U.S. District Court under the Hobbs Act which provides for penalties up to 20 years in federal prison for conviction of a violent crime while armed with a weapon.

“We’ve seen a lot of traction, had a lot of success, particularly with the Hobbs Act,” he said, “particularly these serial armed robberies we’ve seen so many of in the city. Their exposure in federal court is much greater than it is in state court, and once we take these guys off the street, we’re confident they won’t be back.

“As you know, Indiana led the country in pharmacy robberies. Again, those were serial Hobbs robberies, an organization that was doing that, again, we’ve had a lot of success in taking those individuals off the streets and we’ve seen pharmacy robberies go down.”

IMPD’s added attention to six focus areas where a disproportionate amount of violent crime occurs in the city will be enhanced by federal investigation and prosecution this summer.

“For those who think that they can simply fire shots in the air at a car and not hit anything and think they’ve escaped consequences, well, that’s simply not true. We’re going to collect those shell casings and if we find that there is a match somewhere else, we’re going to link those,” said IMPD Assistant Chief Jim Waters, “and hopefully it will serve as a deterrent to people who randomly fire shots in the air and when they miss their target and they hit ten year old kids name Deshaun that they know that that gun can be tracked elsewhere.”

Last September Deshaun Swanson was killed when members of a northside drug gang fired at a rival thought to be at a house in the south Butler/Tarkington area.

This spring, a joint federal and local investigation arrested several members of the Get Money Gang and traced a gang member’s gun to several unsolved shootings and murders.