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Ohio BCI expands NIBIN technology to test guns and shell casings, trace them to crimes

Using this technology, BCI was able to link seven different Columbus cases together with the leads that they found.

LONDON, Ohio — Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost on Monday announced that law enforcement agencies in the state can access a national digital ballistics database in an effort to curb violent crime.

Through the Bureau of Criminal Investigations, crime laboratories in Bowling Green, London and Richfield added hardware that can connect to the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN). The laboratories are now able to accept crime guns and cartridge cases submitted by law enforcement.

NIBIN, which is operated by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), makes 3D scans of cartridge cases and compares those to millions of other images in the database, identifying links to previously unconnected gun crimes in Ohio and across the country.

The crime labs are linked to the ATF’s NIBIN National Correlational and Training Center in Alabama. Cartridge cases collected from crime scenes can be sent through NIBIN to the center and analyzed within hours. The results are then given to detectives and can help lead to criminals being identified faster, according to the attorney general.  

“NIBIN is a proven, science-based technology that can help counter the plague of gun violence,” Yost said. “This is a tool for all Ohio law enforcement agencies, from the smallest village with only a part-time chief to the largest agency in the state. BCI takes the evidence and processes it free of charge.”

As part of its NIBIN expansion, BCI recently brought online five additional NIBIN units – two each in Bowling Green and London, and one in Richfield, which previously housed the bureau’s only NIBIN station.

Yost said the expanded access is crucial because NIBIN’s effectiveness as a crime-fighting tool improves as the database grows. The more cartridge cases that are entered into NIBIN, the better the chances of linking gun crimes and capturing criminals.

“I’m excited to see how NIBIN success stories ramp up across the state in the coming years,” the attorney general said. “Think about DNA. As DNA technology grew and more and more agencies submitted profiles to the national CODIS database, solving crimes through DNA eventually became commonplace. NIBIN holds similar promise, only for guns.”

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