Forensic Technology Blog

A NIBIN New Year Resolution: Stopping Armed Criminals in Arizona

Posted by Pete Gagliardi Jan 18, 2012 9:00:00 AM

The NIBIN Gun Squad from Phoenix, Arizona uses NIBIN in innovative ways.A recent article posted on the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website announces:

“For the first time, firearms seized by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agencies in Arizona were test-fired recently for cross-matching through the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network [NIBIN-administered by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF)] for links to other crime scenes. This coordination effort was conducted through the CBP Anti-Gang Initiative with the Phoenix Police Department, Gun Enforcement Squad.”

In the article, Jeffrey Self, commander of the Joint Field Command – Arizona, observes that this initiative is an example of CBP’s commitment to working with state, local and federal law enforcement partners. He said: “I am proud that CBP has long standing relationships with other law enforcement agencies from the local to federal levels,” he said. “If one of these firearms we seized leads to solving an open case and taking a dangerous person off the streets, then all our efforts are worth it.”

This is a BIG deal.

Kudos to CBP-Arizona for taking this giant step, and starting the New Year in a big way.

In order to fully understand the impact of the action taken by CBP-Arizona, one just needs to think about the structure of law enforcement in the United States.  There are approximately 17,000 different law enforcement agencies in the U.S. operating at the Federal, State, County and local levels of Government, each one with its own command structure and operating directives.

For example, in the Phoenix Metro area there are well over thirty different law enforcement agencies listed in the “Yellow Pages”.

On any given day in Phoenix, law enforcement agencies such as the ATF, DEA, FBI, ICE, Secret Service and the U.S Marshall’s Service, conduct law enforcement operations — with and without the Phoenix Police Department depending on the task. 

So, what happens to the gun that an agency seizes in an enforcement operation?

Is it just locked up on a shelf in the property room?

How is the potential crime solving information that each gun holds in terms of its “internal ballistics signature” and external serial number, processed and shared with the law enforcement agencies that may need it?

This is exactly what modern systems and databases like NIBIN  and ATF’s eTrace, for tracing the history of acquisitions and dispositions of firearms, were set up to do – share vital crime solving information in a timely manner with those who may need it.

Without a regionally shared crime gun processing protocol, in place among the various law enforcement agencies operating within a given geographic area, the gun seized from a counterfeiter by the Secret Service or a drug dealer by the DEA, could well be the murder weapon that will never come to the attention of detectives investigating the homicide.  

This is why the recent step taken by CBP-Arizona to join the already dozen or so law enforcement agencies actively contributing to NIBIN under the very innovative and effective Phoenix Metro NIBIN Program is such a big deal and such a good way for law enforcement to start off the New Year.

Pete Gagliardi


Topics: NIBIN, Intelligence-led Policing, smuggling, Pete's Pick, IBIS, ballistics identification

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