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Tracking guns used in Indianapolis violent crimes

IMPD officers are using technology at the Regional Operation Center as one of their crimefighting tools.

INDIANAPOLIS — With two months left in 2020, Indianapolis has already surpassed 200 homicides, shattering the past murder record.

Now, the question that's getting louder and in desperate need of an answer is "How do we stop the violence?" Part of that answer could come from the very guns found on the street.

As IMPD braces for one of their most violent years ever for gun violence, they are not taking it lightly. Officers are using technology at the Regional Operation Center as one of their crimefighting tools.

One June 12, Metro Police responded to a parking lot at Castleton Square Mall after two groups opened fire on each other. On Sept. 7, officers found five people shot on Graceland Avenue. On Oct. 9, more gunfire was investigated at East 32nd Street and North Keystone Avenue.

"To reduce gun violence, we must understand it," said IMPD Maj. Matt Thomas of the department's Crime Gun Intelligence Center.

The center is where police use ballistics to collect information about the guns used at crime scenes, creating an investigative paper trail.

"The intelligence cycle begins tracking the forensic evidence and linking it to any other potential scenes," Thomas said.

Shootings like one near Southeastern Avenue and East New York Street are part of the count that is already breaking records for Indianapolis in 2020. What's even more frustrating for homicide detectives is what they know from tracing the guns used in the shootings.

"That a small number of people are driving gun violence in the city of Indianapolis," Thomas said.

Thomas stressed even with police tracking guns used in different shootings, they still need help from the public.

"If you know someone directly involved in gun violence, that you reach out to Crime Stoppers or IndyCGIC@indy.gov," Thomas said.

Police hope what they are learning about gun violence at the Regional Operation Center will have a huge impact on gun violence in our city.

But tracking guns and violent crime does not stop at the Indianapolis city limits.

There's a nationwide database following guns used in crimes across city, county and state lines. It's called the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network, or NIBIN. 

The Fishers Police Department started processing guns through the system last year. As of this February, they already tracked about 60 weapons back to violent crimes in Indianapolis.

And that's just in Fishers.

There is now a push to get other neighboring cities and counties on board.

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