Inside the evidence room: What Detroit police are doing to get illegal guns off the street

Police on pace to see more than 7,000 illegal firearms this year

Police said in 2020 the department saw more than twice as many illegal guns in Detroit as they did in 2019.

DETROIT – Police said in 2020 the department saw more than twice as many illegal guns in Detroit as they did in 2019.

This year, officials are on pace to see more than 7,000 illegal firearms. That’s 23 illegal guns a day.

More than 4,000 illegal guns were confiscated in 2019. That number jumped to more than 7,000 in 2020.

Read: ‘No shortage of gun violence’: What ATF is doing to combat spike in illegal gun sales in Metro Detroit

“One of the main issues, obviously is guns, nonfatal shootings, and fatal shootings,” Detroit police Commander John Serda said.

He said the illegal gun issue isn’t just impacting his precinct. It’s impacting all of Detroit.

The Local 4 Defenders obtained the number of CCW arrests so far this year. The 6th and 8th Detroit police precincts lead the number of arrests with more than 500.

“There’s the problem with ghost guns that you may have heard where they’re getting parts of guns through the internet, or through the dark web, and put these guns together and selling them on the street,” Serda said.

One way illegal guns are confiscated is through routine traffic stops. Body camera footage shows a driver ignoring a red signal and police stopping him. The driver, Reginald Moore, wasn’t able to produce insurance, registration, or a license.

Read: 10 indicted on charges involving illegal ‘straw purchasing’ of firearms in Michigan

“If the person doesn’t have a valid driver’s license they can be arrested and certainly the vehicle can be impounded. So during an inventory search of the vehicle, many times we find guns,” Serda said.

That’s what happened after the Moore arrest. An officer found a loaded black Glock 20 handgun under the driver’s seat. Moore admitted he did not have a license for the firearm. Moore was charged with felon in possession of a weapon.

The guns end up inside the evidence room at Detroit Police Department Headquarters. More than 67,000 guns are stored there and the number keeps growing. Some of the guns date back as far as the 1930s and they can’t be disposed of because they are evidence. The guns are tested to see if they were used in crimes or if they can be tracked to other criminals.

The crackdown on illegal firearms is ongoing. The upward trend in neighborhoods across the city is something police are worried about. They are using resources and manpower to combat the issue.

Read: Complete Local 4 Defenders coverage


About the Authors:

Karen Drew is the anchor of Local 4 News First at 4, weekdays at 4 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. She is also an award-winning investigative reporter and part of the Local 4 Defenders team.

Kayla is a Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit. Before she joined the team in 2018 she worked at WILX in Lansing as a digital producer.