A common question asked is, “Why would I need Ballistics when I already have (or am getting) NIBIN?” The simple answer is, “Because Ballistics IQ is not an alternative to NIBIN. It helps agencies with NIBIN be much more effective and efficient in their use of NIBIN.” Let me share how.
It has been well established that two primary keys to a successful crime gun intelligence effort is comprehensive collection of evidence and timeliness of investigative information. This means that representative evidence from every shooting and every recovered firearm should be entered into NIBIN. That’s comprehensive collection. When it operates well, some agencies have reported that 25 to 35% of every shooting that is entered into NIBIN connects with another shooting. I sat in a meeting where one agency reported 50%. Timeliness is the second factor and NIBIN sites are very familiar with the expected 72-hour turnaround that is expected of them as part of their responsibilities in NIBIN.
There are over 200 participating NIBIN sites throughout the United States. It is estimated that over 5,000 different law enforcement agencies contribute to NIBIN. If every agency is submitting all firearm related evidence to their NIBIN site, that means there is a tremendous amount of responsibility placed on those NIBIN sites to ensure the effective sampling of every case for entry into NIBIN and providing those results within 72 hours of submission. That seems like an insurmountable task, and you might be wondering how it is being accomplished. Well, it isn’t. As much as NIBIN has improved over the last decade and it has improved immensely, the load is simply too much for a NIBIN site to carry all on its own. Gun crime is a community problem, and it cannot be solved by 200 well-intentioned agencies offering their support. It must be approached with a community-wide effort.
The choke point for the effective and efficient processing of firearm-related evidence at the NIBIN sites is not the technology associated with NIBIN, it is the sheer number of cases through which they must sort to input cartridge cases into NIBIN. For example, imagine a shooting case in which 10 to 15 cartridge cases were recovered. A technician at the NIBIN site must triage that case by opening that case, analyzing all the cartridge cases submitted, grouping them according to the different firearms that appear to be responsible, and then selecting the best samples for entry. Now, given the average of 25 agencies per NIBIN site nationwide we can begin to imagine the load on the NIBIN site.
This is where Ballistics IQ enters the picture. It offers the local communities a way in which they can participate in the responsibility of combatting gun crime in their own communities. Ballistics IQ is the only automated cartridge case triage tool in the market. Imagine the effectiveness and efficiency of the NIBIN site if rather than submitted 10 to 15 cartridge cases a shooting, an agency submitted only 2 or 3 that the NIBIN site could enter without ever triaging because the agency submitted those cartridge cases did a part of the lift. Each agency would be able to submit more of their shooting evidence without overwhelming the NIBIN site and, as a result, have much more crime gun intelligence to get active shooters off their streets, making their communities safer.
Crime gun intelligence is a collaborative effort and NIBIN is the cornerstone of that effort. When used by partner agencies, Ballistics IQ makes that effort much more comprehensive and effective.