Timely submission of evidence into NIBIN.
Timely and accurate firearms trace requests for all recovered crime guns.
In traditional forensic firearms examinations, cases would be submitted and fall into a backlog, awaiting full examination. Each case, prioritized based on violent crime level and trial dates, would eventually be analyzed. Lower level, non-violent cases, or those not going to trial may take months or years to be analyzed. Typically, evidence was submitted into NIBIN at the end of this process.
In the past, NIBIN leads were generated, too often, twelve to eighteen months after recovery. This approach is not an efficient or effective use of resources. It minimizes or misses critical investigative leads. Several successful major city police departments, including those with ISO 17025 accredited crime labs, have developed streamlined workflows to screen firearms evidence, better use their resources, and maintain all quality standards. These sites share the following suggested features:
The critical key is to implement processes that combine all relevant forensic practices, while maintaining timely notification of NIBIN leads. There are a number of innovative and proven methods of accomplishing this. Viable options include:
In 1999, ATF established the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN) to provide federal, state, and local partner agencies with an automated ballistic imaging network. NIBIN is the only national network that allows for the capture and comparison of ballistic evidence to aid in solving and preventing violent crimes involving firearms. NIBIN is vital to any violent crime reduction strategy, because it provides investigators the ability to compare their ballistics evidence against evidence from other violent crimes on a national, regional and local level, thus generating investigative links that would rarely be revealed absent the technology.
The ATF National Tracing Center (NTC) is a critical component of crime gun intelligence. Through the serial number and other relevant information from a crime gun, the NTC can track a firearm from manufacture to the first retail purchaser. In instances where firearms were illegally purchased or transferred, the trace information is important to determine the identify of individuals involved in providing firearms to the criminal market. Tracing information can also reveal interstate trafficking schemes that are responsible for diverting large numbers of firearms from the normal means of commerce into the black market making them available for use in violent crime. More than any other CGI component, firearms tracing helps direct appropriate resources at the front end of the shooting cycle – the point of diversion.
To incorporate firearms tracing into a comprehensive crime gun intelligence program, the following guidance are suggested for recovering agencies:
The NTC is the only organization authorized to trace U.S. and foreign manufactured firearms for international, federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies. Firearms trace requests may be submitted to any law enforcement agency in the course of a bona fide criminal investigation. Trace request forms (ATF F 3312.1, National Tracing Center Trace Request) are available online or by contacting the ATF National Tracing Center at 1-800-788-7133.