KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — In an effort to reduce gun violence, President Joe Biden has ordered police agencies to up their requirements on a ballistics data network. That network is already being used in Kalamazoo.
The National Integrated Ballistic Integration Network is a software package used by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in partnership with local police departments to examine forensic evidence left at crime scenes. The tech behind it has been used by the feds since the late 90’s.
Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety has been using it in-house as recently as 2019.
“That’s just another layer of technology we’re using to really help us with our No. 1 priority here, which is reducing gun violence,” said KDPS Chief David Boysen.
Excluding Michigan State Police and ATF offices and labs, KDPS is one of three municipal or county law enforcement agencies in the state who use NIBIN in-house — the Detroit Police Department and the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office.
Boysen said the partnership between KDPS and ATF through NIBIN saves his detectives valuable time. For expedited requests in cases like homicides, the turnaround for results can be as quick as 24 hours.
Special Agent Jim Deir out of the ATF’s Detroit division said having the tech package in-house at a local law enforcement agency helps streamline the process.
“We found that it’s more advantageous to have it in a police department’s evidence room and to put it at the front end of forensic analysis so guns can be test-fired and whatnot to make those links,” Deir said.
From the extractor to the firing pin, Deir explained that fired guns leave distinctive marks on shell casings identifiable through NIBIN. He said it can help connect the dots between open investigations at different agencies if the shell casings can connect the guns used in other crimes.
“(Let’s) say (there was) a shooting in Detroit. You could have a detective working that case not knowing that gun had made it over to Grand Rapids. And Detroit could have some preliminary information if that shooting was before that incident in Grand Rapids,” Deir explained. “What NIBIN does is it connects, alerts both of those detectives that a gun involved in their crimes are linked to one another. It encourages that dialogue between the detectives to share leads, share information and to hopefully solve both crimes.”
Boysen called NIBIN a helpful investigative tool to track down guns used in crimes and who’s using them.
“If I catch someone with a gun and before they’re even arraigned on that gun charge, I can tell the judge ‘By the way, the gun that we caught him with was used in a shooting.’ They can take that into considerating in setting bonds and things like that,” Boysen said. “It’s really helping us … keep our communities safer.”
When it comes to NIBIN, the president’s executive order directs “all federal law enforcement agencies to issue rigorous requirements regarding NIBIN data submission and use of this tool.”
An ATF spokesperson said NIBIN expediting investigative leads in a 24-to-48-hour timeframe meets those requirements. The spokesperson did not provide a list of what exactly those “rigorous requirements” are and what changes could stem from them.