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IMPD changes gun policy after I-Team 8 investigation

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A new policy says Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department will no longer send firearms being held for safekeeping to a lab for testing.

The change came after an I-Team 8 investigation that exposed the department sending every single gun to the ballistic lab for testing and the data sent to the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives for entry into a national database.

Guy Relford, a Second Amendment advocate and lawyer, said, “This changes things dramatically for an awful lot of people who I think have been wrongfully denied possession of their firearms.”

IMPD Assistant Chief Chris Bailey told I-Team 8 in February that the department policy was to send every firearm confiscated for whatever reason or circumstance to the crime lab. Bailey confirmed all guns are processed regardless of whether they were involved in a crime.

Bailey in February said, “They are processed down in the citizen service section, firearms section, entered into the system as property and then at some point make their way over to the crime lab.”

Bailey in February said the department did not have to have probable cause or a search warrant to process the guns. “Not that we know of. We went back and checked how long this has been going on. A former employee, who came on in 1973, and it was happening then in the 1970s and she worked another 30 years here and retired a couple years ago.” 

IMPD policy was to collect data from all firearms and send that data to ATF as part of a federal database called the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network.

ATF Special Agent Darryl McCormick told I-Team 8 that only data from firearms suspected of being involved in a crime was supposed to be sent to the ATF, and IMPD was sending data from every firearm, a possible violation of ATF policy.

Relford said, “There was a very poignant moment in your interview of the person from DOJ in your story, Richard, and I’m sure you noticed it, it’s the reason you aired it. But you said, ‘Aren’t these guns being sent to you?’ the keeper of these databases in Washington. ‘Is it your understanding that these guns are used in crimes and that’s why they are being sent to you?’ The nickname for the database is the crime gun database, right? And so the person you were interviewing, he said, ‘Well, I don’t know if .. and I don’t know that .. well, we assume they are used in crimes.”

“That was it and he didn’t want to put, I think, his fellow law enforcement on the spot and say, ‘If they’re sending us guns that are not used in crimes, that is not the way the system is supposed to work.’”

The adjustment to IMPD’s policy does not account for the timely return of firearms to legal gun owners. 

In I-Team 8’s Feburary story, Ahmere Nance was not suspected in a crime; however, his firearm had been in the IMPD property for two years after, he says, his car was towed with his firearm inside.

No one knows for sure how many legal and lawful gun owners had their data collected and sent to the ATF. I-Team 8 has heard the city government and the police department could be facing a class-action lawsuit from people who had their rights violated.