Crime, Guns & NIBIN: Collect, compare the casings, connect the dots
The unique markings left on spent bullets and cartridge casings can be the firearm equivalent of pocket trash: of great value to a law enforcement investigator, if the information has been properly collected and processed and is readily available. Information that might seem of little value to one agency can be a critical factor to the success of another agency's investigation. Click on the following links to read articles published in the monthly Rocky Mountain Information Network Bulletin publication to learn more about the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN), eTrace and crime gun intelligence:
Crime Gun Intelligence and Gun Enforcement
Crime Gun Intelligence programs including NIBIN (National Integrated Ballistic Information Network) and e Trace can provide actionable intelligence for cases involving the use of firearms. The NIBIN program, administered by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) involves the entry and comparison of computer images taken of fired cartridge casings left as crime scenes, as well as those from seized firearms that are test-fired by law enforcement personnel. Following analysis of possible matches, crimes involving the use of the same firearm, previously not known to investigators, can be linked together providing valuable intelligence and leads. Firearm tracing through eTrace, also administered by ATF, involves the systematic tracking of recovered firearm from its manufacturer or importer and subsequent introduction into the distribution chain (wholesaler/retailer) to the first retail purchase. Tracing information can be used to link a suspect to a firearm in a criminal investigation and to identify potential traffickers. When implemented together in a timely manner, these crime gun intelligence programs can provide critical information to help investigators and identify offenders. Click on the link above for additional information from ATF regarding firearm tracing.
To utilize these crime gun intelligence programs to their fullest potential, and to help generate timely leads for investigators, the Phoenix Police Department Crime Gun Intelligence Squad has developed theINTEL program (Immediate
Leads) to ensure the timely submission of evidence into NIBIN - with a goal of providing leads within 24 - 48 hours of an incident. In partnership with the Phoenix Police Department Crime Lab and ATF, the Crime Gun Intelligence Squad works closely with investigative details throughout the Department, as well as the Property Management Bureau, to provide timely crime gun intelligence to detectives. This squad, assigned to the Violent Crimes Bureau Assaults Unit, is supervised by a
sergeant and is comprised of civilian, sworn and volunteer personnel.
(Click on the COPS link for information regarding the Phoenix Police Department Citizens Offering Police Support program)
Due to a limited number of NIBIN sites in Arizona, the Phoenix Metro NIBIN Program was launched by the Phoenix Police Department (PPD) in July 2010 in partnership with ATF. Personnel from law enforcement agencies throughout Arizona receiving the requisite training and certification are welcome, and encouraged, to enter their ballistic evidence at the Phoenix Police Department NIBIN site utilizing one of the three IBIS BRASSTRAX entry and four MATCHPOINT analysis stations. To date, 22 agencies have participated in this program with more than 29,000 entries having been completed at the PPD NIBIN site representing 36 different law enforcement agencies. Hundreds of hits have been identified during this time, with many of these hits involving shootings and other firearm-related crimes that have occurred in different jurisdictions. The case linkages and intelligence provided would not have been possible without this regional program.
In the news ...
We participated in a Forensic Science Day with Grand Canyon University:
Grand Canyon University Today
CBP begins ballistic testing on seized firearms:
US Customs and Border Protection
Gun Enforcement Squad
The mission of the Gun Enforcement Squad is to suppress and prevent firearms related crime through effective enforcement of Federal and State firearms laws. This squad, in partnership with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), is dedicated to the investigation of prohibited firearms possessors, armed career criminals, illegal firearms trafficking, violent organizations and gangs that misuse firearms.
For commonly asked firearms related questions, see our
Frequently Asked Questions.
- Prohibited possessors
- Possessors of prohibited weapons
- Shannon's Law Violations
- Gun store burglaries
- Concealed Weapon Violation
The following video is a media piece providing open source information about the Phoenix Metro NIBIN Program.
Phoenix Metro NIBIN Program Participating Agencies
Arizona State University
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
Other useful links of interest:
Project Safe Neighborhoods
ATF - NIBIN and eTrace Webpage
International Association of Chiefs of Police
IACP Reducing Gun Violence in our Communities Leadership Guide
Project Child Safe
Project ChildSafe disseminates firearm safety kits (which include a gun lock and safety education brochure) through law enforcement agencies across the country. For more information, please visit their website,
Project Child Safe
Project Safe Neighborhoods, Making America's Communities Safer