With so many presentations, workshops and panels, IFFS 2017 provided its attendees with a wealth of information, advice and tips meant to support the role forensic ballistics identification plays in preventing and solving gun crime.
Throughout, however, there were three key points that consistently rose to the fore.
Many speakers highlighted the need to adopt a proactive rather than reactive approach to tackling the criminal use of firearms. A proactive approach means that firearm laboratories and their processes for ballistics examination are thoroughly integrated into an agency’s crime fighting strategy.
An integrated approach helps labs to deliver fast time, actionable intelligence to investigators, giving them the tools they need to get criminals off the streets. It is well known that delivering sound ballistics evidence within 72 hours of an incident radically improves the chances of solving the crime.
The take-away: make laboratory integration and fast time intelligence a priority.
Other speakers talked about the importance of maximizing the intelligence that can be extracted from the gun found at a crime scene. This means both ballistics data and trace data from outside the gun should be collected in each and every firearm incident.
This information is not only important to identifying the perpetrators of an individual crime, but also to better understand the bigger picture—the supply, distribution and use of illicit firearms across the globe.
The take-away: make sure comprehensive gun data is the main source of intelligence.
Close collaboration among law enforcement agencies and private enterprise allows programs like the INTERPOL Ballistic Information Network (IBIN) to exist and play a key role in fighting gun-enabled crime. Together, we're stronger and better equipped to stay one step ahead of gun crime.
The take-away: working together is essential to improving our ability to make society safer.
As with any infrastructure purchase, it’s important to take a closer look at what you will get for your investment. Here are a few considerations to make when considering the acquisition of a ballistics identification system.
In recent years, a handful of forensic science agencies around the world have cycled through a number of ballistics identification systems. In a couple of cases, their first-generation IBIS Heritage system was replaced by lower priced solutions. However, a few years later, these same agencies reversed their decision and adopted the latest generation IBIS system.
The competing solutions were not able to network or correlate effectively, limiting the ability to confirm leads and find hits. Once IBIS was installed, matches increased by at least 8 times and agencies were finally able to deliver hundreds of leads per month, an exponentially higher number of matches that reduced the cost per lead dramatically. And nearly a third of these leads came from connections made with cases from neighboring jurisdictions.
The bottom line:
A solution that networks, correlates and produces more leads is much more economical. No matter how low-priced a system is, the cost savings become null and void if the system doesn’t work properly, or can’t be networked or upgraded as needed.
While you can never put a price on a life, a report by the British Treasury released in 2014 found that violent crime imposes significant costs to society, the cost of one murder having been estimated to be £1.8 million. The estimate, based on 2010-11 costs, comprises £1 million in social costs, £530,000 in economic costs due to lost output and a further £174,000 in directs costs to health, police and criminal justice agencies.
In addition, the British Police spend on average £1.5m to investigate a murder, putting the total cost to UK society at over £3m.
The bottom line:
If IBIS saves just one life, it has more than paid for itself.
Ballistics Identification Systems vary in their sophistication and, as a result, their capabilities. Behind every IBIS system lies 25 years of research and expertise emanating from the world’s best ballistics scientists and researchers – professionals who have dedicated their careers to the creation of the most advanced ballistics identification technology in the world.
In addition to being able to consistently acquire, store and correlate millions of exhibits, all IBIS systems are produced according to strict quality assurance processes, ensuring they are future-proofed, consistent and stable. And should any problems arise, systems are supported by a team of expertly trained technologists located around the world.
The bottom line:
You get what you pay for.
Want to solve more crime? Your ballistics analysis system must have the following capabilities in order to let you share data quickly and securely within a network.
Image files are heavy so if you want to share them quickly over a network, they need to be lightened first. IBIS uses optimized compression technology to condense image data so it can be delivered with speed and with zero impact on image quality or resolution. There is never a need for bulk data copying.
Can your system share large images quickly?
For networks to function, it is essential that all systems be able to share data with one another regardless of their hardware or software versions. IBIS solutions are all backward compatible, so no matter when they were installed, they are able to communicate with each other seamlessly. This means that an exhibit acquired today can be compared with an exhibit acquired 25 years ago—increasing the chances of connecting crimes and protecting the investment you’ve made in your database.
Can your system share data with older or newer versions?
Just as with any Google search, if you want to find what you’re looking for, selecting the right terminology is critical. The ballistics terms used in IBIS are standardized ensuring you’ll find a match between two exhibits with the same class characteristics. Without an interface that uses standardized terminology, you would be forced to sort through libraries, one image at a time, which is extremely time consuming especially as your database grows.
Does your system allow you to carry out effective database searches?