COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Ohio is making sure its law enforcement has the resources to help track down those responsible for deadly shootings and other acts of gun violence.
In the past few weeks, the Bureau of Criminal Investigations has expanded access to a tool that they hope will connect crimes, catch criminals, and keep people safe.
NBC4 got a look inside the BCI London lab and at the new technology that Attorney General Dave Yost said could be a game changer.
“We could have a major impact on the population of people that are using guns to commit violent crime,” Yost said. “That’s my goal, get these folks off the street, drive the crime rate down. Guns in crimes tend to be used multiple times and the people that commit crimes with guns tend to commit multiple crimes. Connecting the dots helps police officers.”
This technology is already making an impact. It’s called NIBIN, which stands for The National Integrated Ballistic Information Network.
“We were actually able to link seven different Columbus cases together,” NIBIN technician Lauren Van Dyne said. “They didn’t really have much that they were going off of and then a case came in here that you know, we did our acquisition and our correlation, and we ended up getting the firearm and so we were able to link the firearms to those seven different Columbus cases.”
It’s a multi-step process. First lab techs examine the evidence and take notes.
“We’ll look at those and then try to put them into groups to kind of get an idea of how many guns were present. And then we’ll choose one representative sample from each of those groups to enter into the system,” Van Dyne said.
Then the system takes a photo.
“During the firing process some of the details from the firearm can be impressed in that primer and then that makes it unique to that gun,” Van Dyne said.
Those photos are compared to photos from Ohio and across the United States.
After the process forensic scientists take another look.
“It’s a next step up in level of documentation and thoroughness,” forensic scientist Matthew White said.
The firearm is test shot into a water tank so scientists can compare cartridges to those from a crime scene.
“We can later do a microscopic comparison to the evidence items in order to say whether or not they’ve been fired and/or from a particular firearm,” White said.
“We’re already starting to see signs of success, leads being generated matches coming out of the system,” Yost said. “It’s still going to take shoe leather. It’s going to take old fashioned police work to get to the point where we’ve got handcuffs on somebody and a charge in court, but that’s the direction we’re going.”
Columbus Police also has its own technology to help officers with shooting investigations. They expanded its NIBIN systems earlier this year.