COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Gov. Mike DeWine, alongside state, local and federal officials, announced a new initiative to prevent gun violence in central Ohio on Tuesday.
DeWine was joined around 2 p.m. by Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther at the Ohio Department of Public Safety. Representatives from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Columbus Police, Ohio State Highway Patrol and Franklin County Sheriff’s Office also appeared alongside the two politicians.
The governor started the press conference by describing the program as a “partnership that has never been done at this scale before in central Ohio.” Named the Central Ohio Crime Gun Intelligence Center (GCIC), the program will pool resources between local, state and federal investigators to track guns used in violent crimes.
“The teams taking part in this large-scale and long-term collaboration are sharing everything from intelligence and investigative leads to technology and manpower so that they can zero in on the people who are shooting and killing others without remorse,” DeWine said.
Watch the full announcement in the video player below.
The new central Ohio program also utilizes the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network, originally developed by the ATF. The Ohio State Highway Patrol said it would commit two machines on this network for the new intelligence center. Investigators could use these to create digital images of bullet casings at crime scenes to compare to evidence in other cases. Matches would imply that one firearm may have been used in multiple shootings, creating an investigative lead for law enforcement.
Ginther first announced the plans for a GCIC near the beginning of the year. The city is putting $5 million towards it. The city has already been using NIBIN, but police said having CPD, the Ohio State Highway Patrol, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, and others under one roof will be key.
“When it comes to the timeliness and collaboration, if we’re able to identify these patterns quicker and then pick up on those patterns and find that crime gun and attach it to a suspect, take that suspect into custody, that’s going to hopefully speed up our time of taking that violent offender off the street and get him into prosecution,” Columbus Division of Police Deputy Chief Robert Sagle said.
The GCIC in central Ohio is not just for the Columbus police. DeWine said other agencies in central Ohio can use it for free and encouraged them to do so.
“This is an intensely collaborative effort with these agents sharing much more than just office space,” DeWine said. “It’s a partnership that has never been done at this scale before in central Ohio. and I truly believe it is a game changer.”
The state’s first GCIC is in Cincinnati.