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New IMPD intelligence center is tracking guns to help curb violence in Indianapolis

Bullet in Indianapolis
Posted at 8:28 AM, Apr 08, 2019

INDIANAPOLIS — On the heels of a violent weekend in Indianapolis, the city is implementing a brand-new way to track guns used in crimes and put shooters behind bars.

Over the past few months, the city has been quietly launching a Crime Gun Intelligence Center, or for short, "CGIC." It's a partnership between the city, the United States Department of Justice and the ATF, CGIC is specifically tracking the guns being used by criminals and connecting the dots between shootings and shooters.

The concept works by specifically tracking guns used in crimes with the markings that the gun leaves on the shell casing each time the gun is fired. It's like a fingerprint and no two guns leave the same marking on shell casings.

Detectives collect shell casings at crime scenes, analyze them and then add them to a nationwide database, called NIBIN. The system automatically checks to see if any other shell casings with the same markings were ever entered into the database.

READ | Multiple shootings in Indianapolis in 24 hours | Teen killed in drive-by shooting was fifth in 20 hours

But when it comes to connecting the guns used in the crime, the database really shows its true strength when a gun is recovered after a crime.

When detectives find a gun, it's taken to a lab and fired so police can collect the shell casing. The casing is analyzed and entered into NIBAN. The system then sees if the markings match any other unsolved crimes in the database.

"I think it's changing the way we do business in law enforcement,” ATF special agent Chris Amon said.

But does it actually work? The concept has been implemented in other cities across the country and we went digging into numbers.

Cities like Denver, Phoenix, Houston and Milwaukee have reported that it's been a major help to connect cases and help put shooters behind bars.

MORE | Investigators link guns found during arrests to unsolved crimes with state database | Multiple shootings in Indianapolis in 24 hours | Teen killed in drive-by shooting was fifth in 20 hours

In an example in Denver, an attempted murder case went cold for nearly two years until NIBIN matched shell casings left at the scene of the drive-by to an incident in Colorado Springs where someone fired a gun in the air. When police arrested Lomeli-Casillas for another matter, they found a gun in his car. NIBIN matched that gun to the earlier incidents in Denver and Colorado Springs. He’s now serving an eight-year prison sentence for the Denver assault.

On Monday, IMPD is planning to release more details at a community Stewardship Report meeting about the implementation of CGIC in the city and how it has already helped solve cases.

The meeting is scheduled for Monday, April 8th at 2:00 p.m. at IMPD's East District (200 N. Shadland, Indianapolis, IN 46219).