Police in Hamilton County help to connect guns to crime in Indy

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FISHERS, Ind. — Police across the region are working together in the fight against gun violence by treating each gun they find as its own crime scene.

“The most common place is going to be on the magazine,” said Sgt. Jim Hawkins of the Fishers Police Department as he brushed a handgun for fingerprints.  “For DNA, we’ve had luck on the grip, the triggers, the front slide area and the rear slide.”

The gun he’s inspecting could be the key to breaking a case wide open.

The department now goes through every gun they seize, scrubbing for all sorts of clues that could lead to a match.

“Its very very rough right here,” Hawkins said of the magazine. “Your thumbs get sore after a while so it’s a great place to look for those DNA cells to get a profile.”

This process is new for Fishers. They now have a system of categorizing each gun and submitting it to the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network to help other departments.

“NIBIN is a database that we’ve dusted off in Fishers,” said Chief Ed Gebhart. “We’re using it, and you know it’s something that our neighbors to the south educated us on. We knew it was out there, we just weren’t processing this way.”

By doing this, the department is discovering that many of the guns they encounter have a past.

“What we’re finding is we’re having weapons that are being tied to criminal activity and violent crime in Indianapolis,” Gebhart said.

Since Fishers has started this process in February, they’ve submitted 60 guns to that database, leading to 26 hits for violent crimes, mainly in Indianapolis.

Carmel is also doing the same thing. Since May, they’ve submitted 26 guns leading to 6 hits.

“You’ve matched their crime to a person that we’re in contact with,” Gebhart said. “So you have an open case or another lead for their detectives to follow.”

It’s a new process fishers learned from IMPD. It may not solve a crime in Fishers, but Gebhart believes gun violence is a regional issue that all communities should fight.

“We believe that their suspects reside, live here, travel here or visit here,” Gebhart said of IMPD. “Fishers doesn’t want to stand on the sideline—we want to help with that problem.”

By changing their process, police in Fishers hope to change the future, and now they want other departments to join in.

“I believe that if we get all the doughnuts (surrounding communities) of Indianapolis on board, we can really help out with this problem, we can really reduce violent crimes,” Gebhart said.

Departments in Hamilton County will have another training on the process on October 22.

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