Cincinnati police find 'community' guns

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Garbage cans, bushes, behind loose bricks in buildings.  These are all locations where Cincinnati police have found "community" guns.

It's an alarming problem that Cincinnati Police Chief Jeffrey Blackwell told FOX19 NOW Investigates the department is monitoring closely.

"It's a problem for us," Blackwell said. "We are seeing it in different neighborhoods in Cincinnati, the young people know where they're kept. I guess (there's) an informal agreement that you can use the gun and put it back when you're done with it."

In fact, detectives told us of a recent disturbing find in Over-the-Rhine.  Police said they'd chased several suspects in the area after receiving 911 calls about people with guns, but at the time they did not locate any weapons.  It turned out, two handguns -- A Bersa 380 semi-automatic and a Lorcin 380 semi-automatic, along with rounds in a plastic bag -- had been concealed under an air conditioning unit.

"We've found (guns) as recently as the last four to six weeks," said Cincinnati Police Capt. Russ Neville. "A TEC-9 was found in a barbeque pit, a spot in a brick wall where you place your hand in, it was concealed. We find them behind garbage cans, we find them in the weeds."

Neville heads up the newly formed Gang Enforcement Squad. Neville along with Chief Blackwell, cautioned it's not just "organized gangs" stashing community guns around town, but also loose groups fighting turf wars.

"They're shooting people in the leg, they're shooting people to send a message to other young people about who's the toughest and who controls different segments of our community," Blackwell said.

One way police are trying to deal with the problem is getting illegal guns off the streets. FOX19 NOW INVESTIGATES obtained a list of the number of firearms confiscated by Cincinnati Police for 2014 and the first six months of 2015.

Confiscated Guns (these numbers do not include guns that were found):

1/1/2014-6/30/2014 total is 190.  
7/1/2014-12/31/2014 total is 378.
1/1/2015-6/30/2015 total is 357.  Source: CPD

The list includes nearly 930 guns, pistols, revolvers and shotguns. There has been a significant uptick in the number of confiscated handguns year-to-year for 2015 over 2014.

Cincinnati Police also provided FOX19 NOW Investigates with a database  of all recovered weapons for the same time period. The data includes weapons found by police officers. And while a majority of firearms were recovered during arrests, a number of guns were also found by police. Some of the locations include bushes, garbage cans and car doors.

This "gun" battle" is not a new one for Cincinnati Police. Mike Allen, former Hamilton County Prosecutor and FOX19 NOW legal analyst, remembered his days of dealing with community guns when was in office. Allen said getting witnesses to tell police where the guns were concealed was next to impossible.

There is such a mentality within the community that if you snitch you're going to get retribution and its really difficult to break that," he said.

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