Gun crime task force expands beyond Indianapolis to track firearms, criminals over county lines

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INDIANAPOLIS – On Tuesday, the Indianapolis Crime Gun Intelligence Center (CGIC) officially became a regional task force, federal, state and local officials announced.

The new Indiana Crime Guns Task Force (ICGTF) will allow for a “uniform approach in processing, collecting and analyzing gun evidence throughout central Indiana.”

“Violent crime and illegal gun transactions do not stop at the Marion County line,” said Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett.

“Our partners are sending a clear message to you today that you cannot hide across these invisible boundary lines,” added IMPD Assistant Chief Chris Bailey.

Once fully implemented, the task force will include law enforcement agencies in Boone, Hamilton, Hancock, Hendricks, Marion, Morgan, Johnson and Shelby counties. It also includes federal partners like the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Indiana.

“Early on in my leadership I learned that the best way for people to become best friends is to share a common enemy, and we as law enforcement share a common enemy in the crime guns and criminals that possess them today,” said Ed Gebhart, chief of the Fishers Police Department, one of the agencies involved.

The new task force will aim to take what the Indianapolis Crime Gun Intelligence Center (CGIC) has done and expand those efforts on an even greater scale.

“We’re proud to build on a successful model here in Indianapolis, taking advantage of interagency partnerships to solve and prevent violent crimes,” said Hogsett. “By working with law enforcement from throughout our region, we’re making sure our violence reduction efforts are as responsive as possible.”

The CGIC set out to remove illegal firearms from criminals. Since its inception in January 2019, officers have seized more than 700 firearms and arrested more than 800 people on state on federal charges. In addition, more than 24,547 entries have been added to the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN).

“Any level of success that we’ve achieved here in the CGIC goes to the officers, detectives and the community that have been engaged with us since the beginning of this project,” Bailey shared.

“The model that has already proven successful here Indianapolis is now a model for our nation and is being replicated,” said Bailey. “This collaboration is one not seen anywhere in the country.”

The regional task force will help law enforcement agencies track gun crimes and shooting suspects who travel beyond county lines and throughout the state.

Bailey said, “There is no safe haven for you if you illegally traffic firearms, if you use a firearm against one of our neighbors or if you possess a firearm illegally.”

He said the number of guns taken off the street is just a small example of the work the CGIC has done to take guns out of the hands of shooters and violent criminals, “Those who have shown that they are not afraid to pull the trigger and traumatize our neighborhoods and injure our neighbors,” said Bailey.

He added, “These aren’t just guns that you know, random people had, these were specifically laser-focused targeted individuals who were known to us because they’ve fired a gun in some illegal fashion at least twice.”

“These are crime guns in the hands of people that shouldn’t have them.”

When IMPD partnered with the Fishers Police Department, Bailey said it became known right away that they had guns in their property room linked to crimes in Indianapolis.

“Had we not started this partnership, we would have never known that,” he added.

“We were coming across offenders who were possessing illegal firearms who had committed crimes violently in Indianapolis,” said Gebhart. “In the last couple of years our agency has taken over 250 illegal firearms off the street and over 60% of those come back to violent crimes in Indianapolis.”

Bailey said as this partnership ramps up, he expects this to be a trend they see even more across the region.

“We think we’re gonna see that from all over departments throughout central Indiana, there are probably guns sitting right now in a property room that we just don’t know about,” he said.

One of the biggest challenges area law enforcement is working to tackle is the people illegally trafficking guns.

“We see it a lot. People are also getting guns because we have some irresponsible gun ownership,” Bailey added, noting that more than 1,000 guns have been reported stolen this year already in Marion County.

“Those guns are in the hands of someone who shouldn’t have it most likely and we have to do better,” he said.

“The persons who are convicted of serious crimes and then pick up a gun or who use a gun to commit a crime should be prosecuted,” said John Childress, acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana.

Childress said more than 350 defendants have been prosecuted by his office that were identified through the CGIC in 2019 and 2020.

“The Indianapolis Crime Gun Intelligence Center, now the Indiana Crime Guns Task Force, has brought together the best in technology, law enforcement, and criminal prosecution and to focus on guns used in crime. This is especially relevant today given the extraordinary challenges we now face throughout our state and where we live,” Childress said.

Roland Hendron Jr., a special agent in charge with the ATF’s Columbus Field Division, said the ATF and IMPD have a longstanding partnership and that this is the next step in going after criminals that “do not respect boundaries.”

Through the use of the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN), the ATF is able to link shootings and other ballistic information.

Through firearms tracing, the ATF works to identify those purchasing the firearms and to develop firearms trafficking patterns.

“These are individuals that we will go after, those individuals who are supplying the crime guns,” said Hendron Jr.

“Creating this task in cooperation with our partners will help us share information and work in unison faster to go after those individuals who make a decision to pull triggers on firearms in our community,” said Hendron Jr. “This group as a whole will use a variety of data and techniques against those individuals who make that decision.”

The regional expansion was made possible by the Indiana General Assembly led by Rep. Greg Steuerwald, who initially sponsored House Bill 1558. The state budget has appropriated $10 million for operating costs over the next two years.

“This is a game-changer,” said Steuerwald.

Fishers Mayor Scott Fadness called the new task force a “shining example of what can be done when we work together collectively.”

ICGTF is a partnership between the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), Fishers Police Department, Carmel Police Department, Avon Police Department, Zionsville Police Department, Indiana State Police, US Attorney, and the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office.

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