BOONE COUNTY — Combating gun crime in Boone County is the goal of a newly extended public safety grant. In 2021, the Boone County Prosecutor’s Office (BCPO) was awarded initial funding to establish a new Gun Liaison Deputy Prosecutor.

The grant funds were recently extended into 2022 and will allow BCPO to continue fund the position and continue to conduct trainings for all Boone County law enforcement on gun related matters – including the Jake Laird Law/Red Flag matters. That’s important because gun related crimes in Boone County has more than doubled over the last seven years.

A deadly shooting on the Rail Trail in April 2019, the killing of deputy Jake Pickett in 2018, and a triple murder at an apartment in Lebanon last year all share a similar connection. Prosecutors claim all three were committed with guns obtained illegally by the suspects of each case.

“In Boone County we’ve seen a steady increase in guns being used to commit crimes,” said Boone County prosecutor Kent Eastwood. Prosecutor Eastwood says extending the gun liaison grant for 2022, coupled with the work of gun tech’s like officer Amanda Heitz in Zionsville, will allow Boone County to better investigate illegal gun possession.

“The entire goal is to keep the community safe,” said Zionsville police officer Amanda Heitz. “Hopefully we can connect guns to other crimes to give people security, knowing that we’re working on these firearms.”

In fact the gun liaison work also doesn’t just benefit Boone County.  Eastwood says a gun recently confiscated Boone County was tied to a murder in Marion County.

“We don’t have walls bordering our county. It’s all just one city right,” said Eastwood. “We pay particular attention to issues in Marion County because it does spill over.”

While the Crime Gun Intelligence Center and a Crime Gun Task Force have been established in Marion County to accomplish many of the same goals, Eastwood believes the rise in gun crimes across central Indiana has made the Boone County efforts important to public safety in his jurisdiction.

“Our main goal is to get illegal guns off the street,” said Eastwood. “We want to make sure anyone that possesses a gun does so legally.” The prosecutor expects to be able to extend the grant for at least 3 or 4 more years using federal money.