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DeWine, law enforcement leaders announce new criminal justice initiative to fight gun violence

The announcement is the latest effort to combat an unprecedented spike in violent crime in Ohio in the past year.

LONDON, Ohio — Law enforcement agencies in Ohio will be given more access to technology to help identify suspects involved in gun violence throughout the state. 

As part of the new Ohio Ballistic Testing Initiative announced by state leaders Thursday, the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and the Ohio State Highway Patrol will be awarded $10.5 million to increase the number of National Integrated Ballistic Information Network units from seven to 16.

The units are used by firearm forensic scientists to analyze microscopic markings on bullets and shell casings from criminal investigations and compare them to firearm evidence connected to other crimes.

If scientists find a match, law enforcement can use the information as an investigative lead.

According to DeWine, the initiative will provide more opportunities for law enforcement to submit firearm evidence for scientific analysis while decreasing the turnaround time on testing results.

“We must do more to hold accountable the small number of dangerous criminals who are responsible for most of the gun violence in our state -- the convicted felons who have lost their right to possess firearms, yet they continue to carry and use guns to hurt and kill people,” he said.

Of the $10.5 million funding, the Ohio Attorney General’s Office will receive $9.2 million to place five new NIBIN machines at BCI’s state crime labs in London, Bowling Green and Richfield. 

BCI will also begin using two transportable NIBIN units to test evidence on-site in underserved areas of the state.

“Every bad guy’s gun tells a story – and that story leads back to the bad guy. But it takes science and data and technology to be able to read that story," said Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost. "Today’s initiative means more bad guys in prison, where they belong, and fewer guns where they don’t.”

OSHP, which currently outsources its ballistics testing to other Ohio labs, will begin testing all of its own evidence with two new NIBIN machines at the Ohio Department of Public Safety headquarters in Columbus and the OSHP Cleveland District Headquarters in northeast Ohio. 

In addition, OSHP will also accept firearm evidence from local agencies for testing.

You can watch Thursday’s briefing in the player below.

The joint initiative is the latest effort to combat an unprecedented spike in violent crime in Ohio in the past year.

During his State of the State address earlier this month, DeWine outlined efforts to double down on support for law enforcement. Part of those efforts include a $125 million investment to public safety and first responder initiatives.

In central Ohio, Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther announced a nearly $19 million investment to equip police with new and improved body cameras. (link story)

City officials say the cameras will serve as a way to help police identify possible suspects, while simultaneously holding officers accountable.

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