Sometimes it can be hard for police to trace gun shell casings back to the scene of a crime and it could take months for ballistic results to be returned back to investigators without the proper technology.
Now, that could change with a new ballistics technology being awarded to 22 state and local enforcement agencies all over the nation on Thursday.
The Department of Justice and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) today announced the deployment of ballistic imaging equipment used by ATF’s National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN) to 22 state and local law enforcement agencies.
“Under President Donald Trump, the Department of Justice is prosecuting more firearm offenders than ever before,” Attorney General Sessions said. “Ballistics technology has given law enforcement an unprecedented ability to make connections between cases and track down dangerous criminals. Today this Department of Justice is once again investing in the 85 percent of law enforcement officers who serve at the state and local levels and we are equipping them with cutting edge technology that will lead to smarter, targeted prosecutions of the most dangerous people in their communities. I have no doubt that this equipment will help to reduce crime in America.”
“Crime Gun Intelligence, including the timely use of the NIBIN network, is the cornerstone of ATF’s violent crime reduction strategy. By deploying equipment to these 22 law enforcement agencies, investigators will now receive investigative leads within 48 hours. They will have new opportunities to disrupt the shooting cycle and make our communities safer,” said ATF Deputy Director Thomas Brandon.
As the only crime gun ballistic network in the United States, NIBIN compares images of cartridge casings recovered at crime scenes and firearms recovered by law enforcement to connect shooting incidents and identify shooters. ATF’s broader Crime Gun Intelligence strategy involves multiple technologies to identify criminal shooters and uses NIBIN as a leads-generator in support of this comprehensive approach. The deployments of this NIBIN equipment will help fill gaps in the intelligence and investigative networks and allow for a more efficient processing of firearm related violent crime evidence.
There are 16 agencies receiving NIBIN equipment for the first time:
- Anchorage, AK PD
- Aurora, IL PD
- Berks County, PA
- Charleston, WV PD
- Cheney, WA State Patrol
- Des Moines, IA PD
- Frederick County, MD Sheriff’s Office
- Ft. Myers, FL PD
- Glendale, AZ PD
- Nassau County, NY Public Safety Center
- Lexington, KY PD
- Miami Gardens, FL PD
- Orange County, NY Intelligence Center
- Pensacola, FL Escambia Co Sheriff
- Richmond, VA PD
- San Bernardino, CA PD
Six agencies are receiving additional equipment to enhance their successful crime gun intelligence programs:
- Baton Rouge, LA State Crime Lab
- Cincinnati, OH PD
- Denver, CO PD
- Detroit, MI PD
- Jacksonville, FL PD
- Philadelphia, PA PD
ATF has 25 Crime Gun Intelligence Centers (CGIC) across the United States in which ATF collaborates with local police departments and federal, state, and local prosecutors. The CGICs utilize cutting-edge technology and dedicated investigative teams to disrupt shooters and identify their source of crime guns before they can commit further criminal acts.
To support local participation in the CGIC approach, the Department recently awarded $5 million under the Local Law Enforcement CGIC Integration Initiative to encourage local jurisdictions to use intelligence, technology, and community engagement to identify unlawfully used firearms and to prosecute those who commit violent crimes. The Department also awarded more than $30 million to Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), the centerpiece of the Department’s crime reduction efforts. Through PSN, the Department is targeting the most violent criminals in the most violent areas by utilizing policing tools like CGICs.
NIBIN is helping cities solve crimes every day. Examples of these NIBIN success stories include:
- In January 2017, an unknown suspect shot a victim at a gas station in Detroit, Michigan. Police recovered cartridge casings and entered them into NIBIN. In April 2017, an unknown suspect fatally shot a limousine driver at a gas station. NIBIN linked the two scenes, and in so doing, provided investigators the intelligence they needed to identify the shooter and remove a murderer from the streets. The shooter was sentenced to life in prison.
- Detectives in New Albany, Indiana, investigated a homicide but had no suspect, one cartridge casing, and information that led them to believe the shooter may have fled to Louisville, Kentucky. A month later, the Louisville Police Department responded to an incident where several shots had been fired inside an apartment. The firearm recovered at that scene was linked by NIBIN to the murder in New Albany. As a result, the shooter was arrested, charged with the homicide, and sentenced to 17 years in prison.
- In 2018, Cincinnati Police investigated a homicide and recovered cartridge casings from the scene, subsequently entering them into NIBIN. A month later, the Cincinnati Police stopped two suspects for driving a stolen car. During the stop, the police recovered two firearms from the car and entered them into NIBIN. NIBIN linked the guns to the murder, and after being prosecuted for the homicide, the two suspects were sentenced to 18 and 50 years in prison.