Federal agents get crime-fighting tool that could help solve cases involving ghost guns
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - As gun violence spikes throughout the country, the Hawaii office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has gotten ahold of a crime fighting tool that could help solve gun cases, even those involving ghost guns.
It’s called NIBIN, which stands for National Integrated Ballistic Information Network.
It’s not new, but Hawaii is one of the few states without a NIBIN system.
The system takes images of spent shell casings from crime scenes and runs the images through a national database, which has millions of pieces of evidence stored.
It can match the casings by the unique markings “when the gun is hitting the bullet casing itself,” said Napoleon Arline, Investigative Analyst for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
“It’s called the ejector mark.”
If Honolulu Police recover casings from a crime scene in Kalihi and puts it into NIBIN, the system can link the gun to another crime scene. That’s called a hit.
“It might not tell us who the shooter was but what it can do is say that most likely the same firearm was used,” ATF Special Agent Aaron Joseph said.
An analyst still has to verify every hit from the database but investigators could move on the lead right away.
“We could start pulling video surveillance, witness statements and link the two scenes up,” Joseph added.
NIBIN can also connect spent rounds from ghost guns offering potential leads.
Most states have at least one permanent system but Hawaii does not have a database. The machine in the ATF Honolulu office is on loan for 90 days.
Once the machine goes away, there will be no longer be a NIBIN system in the state.
During the three month loan, the ATF’s been inputting old casings from Hawaii County crimes, leading them to some hits — including one from a murder case.
The ATF and the county police departments are discussing possible ways to acquire a NIBIN machine, which costs roughly $250,000.
Authorities say funding remains an issue.
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