INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Last year, IMPD confiscated more than 3,500 guns of which 2,800 were associated with crimes. 1,700 firearms were reported stolen and 41 stolen guns were found in the hands of 328 violent offenders whose past history precludes them from possessing such weapons legally.
As part of the 2018 violence reduction strategy rolled out to roll back last year’s record murder tally, IMPD and its partners are cooperating in enforcing gun laws while investigating and prosecuting firearms crimes.
“We need to be more effective, we need to be more precision-like when it comes to those offenders who use guns in commission of crimes,” said IMPD Deputy Chief Chris Bailey. “Also those who are possessing guns who have no business possessing guns.”
IMPD has enhanced its gun evidence collection process in the field, training scores of officers in its Save-A-Cop program which involves, “freezing that scene from the moment that the detective or officer encounters the weapon,” said Bailey, “whether it’s in a traffic stop or search warrant or any other type of investigation, leaving it in its current place, processing the weapon properly for DNA right there on the scene, asking the right questions to the suspect, if possible taking a buccal swab from the suspect right there on the scene and then transporting that weapon to the property room.”
The Marion County Forensic Services Agency has improved its turnaround time on confirming gun evidence from weeks to days while investigators have enhanced access to national data bases to trace the origin of a firearm’s ownership or use.
Officers like Justin Henry patrolling IMPD’s contentious East District in the vicinity of 42nd Street and Post Road are recover guns every day.
“When I self-initiate a traffic stop, for whatever reason it may be, the probability of finding a gun is pretty high. Why is that the case out here? I don’t know but usually I’d say probably one in five stops usually yields some type of firearm that we recover out here whether it’s legally possessed or illegally possessed.”
Those updated evidence recovery methods are paying dividends for prosecutors.
Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry reports that last year his office filed gun charges in 1,828 cases, disposing of 1,699 of the filings.
As of the end of the year Curry’s office had 372 cases pending versus serious violent felons with firearms.
U.S. Attorney Josh Minkler’s office took on 24 similar cases for federal prosecution in January.
“Just carrying a firearm in that instance is five years consecutive to that violent crime or that drug trafficking crime,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Brad Glickman. “If they brandish the firearm during that period of time its seven years. And if they discharge that firearm its ten years.”
Curry said during his seven years in office he’s seen more cases of juveniles in possession of firearms committing violent crimes.
Hundreds of stolen guns are taken from unlocked vehicles every year, said Bailey.
“So folks are not securing guns in their cars and just leaving them out where they can be stolen and even in their own homes during a burglary they’re not in a location where they’re secure.”
IMPD recently launched its #9PMROUTINE on Twitter this month to remind gun owners and all residents to lock up their valuables at night.
Mayor Joe Hogsett, who proclaimed himself the “Public Safety Mayor” the day he was sworn in two years ago, announced the relaunch of the Indianapolis Violence Reduction Partnership to target the most dangerous repeat offenders and put on a full court press to take them into custody.
Semi-monthly IVRP meetings bring IMPD, federal agents, parole and probation officers and prosecutors together to develop strategies to seek and apprehend known felons.
“During that process we go over all the non-fatal shootings that happened in that two week period, all the homicides that have occurred in that two week period, who the priority targets should be based on criminal history based on how many times have they been involved in a non-fatal shooting either as a witness, as a victim, as a suspect on the scene, what is their cooperation level, what statements did they make when they talked to a detective initially about whether or not they’re going to get even themselves and does it have a propensity for retaliation,” explained Bailey. “That information is shared and then these individuals are assigned to the different investigative units whether it’s a Flex Team, a narc team, gangs, FBI Safe Streets, DEA, ATF, all those folks that are there and people report back on what the progress is.”
Officer Henry said quite often last month’s non-fatal shooting victim is this month’s murder statistic or suspect.
“We want to stop the retaliations which usually transpire, after people are shot they usually want to go out pick up a firearm and take things into their own matter which then just creates a cycle of continuous violence with no end in sight.”
In 2017, 136 Indianapolis murders were the result of gunfire.
454 people were wounded by firearms, but IMPD said a majority refuse to cooperate with police or could offer no insight into their assault.
“It’s really focusing us on the small percentage of people that are in the city, in the neighborhoods, that are committing the crimes,” said Bailey.