As the New Year approaches, I thought it would be interesting to look back over the last twelve months and take stock of what went on in the microcosm of forensic ballistics and crime solving.
In the first blog of 2012, entitled: A NIBIN New Year Resolution: Stopping Armed Criminals in Arizona, I commented on a news article reporting that for the first time firearms seized by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agencies were being processed with assistance from the Phoenix Police Department through the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN), administered by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), in an effort to determine if they had been used in other crimes.
I wrote that: “This is a BIG deal” and I gave kudos to the CBP for taking this giant step, and starting the New Year in a big way.
Without a standard crime gun processing protocol subscribed to by the various law enforcement agencies operating within the metropolitan region, the gun hanging on a hook in the DEA evidence vault seized from a “meth” dealer, could well be the murder weapon being sought by local detectives – which will never be discovered.
This is exactly what modern systems and databases like NIBIN, NCIC and 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.
Joint stakeholders thinking and acting together to balance their people, processes and technology toward a common goal to stop armed criminals - this was why the collaboration in Arizona was such a big deal and such a good way for law enforcement to start off the New Year.
In that New Year blog, I labeled what happened in Arizona as a “New Year Resolution” – looking back over the past year I now wonder how that label should be judged – a resolution kept or one abandoned?
Below are some of the actions taken by joint stakeholders thinking and acting together to balance their people, processes and technology toward a common goal - to stop armed criminals - you be the judge:
- January: Forensic Technology produced a paper entitled: Transnational Organized Crime and Gun Violence. A Case for Firearm Forensic Intelligence Sharing, which was published in the International Review of Law, Computers & Technology, Volume 26, Issue 1, 2012.
- February: The National Ballistics Intelligence Service (NABIS) and the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) host: “The Investigating Gun Crime Seminar”, in Warwickshire, England, bringing together over 200 stakeholders in the fight against gun crime from police agencies throughout England, many parts of Europe and from the United States as well.
- March: Forensic Technology produced a White Paper with a colleague from Lethbridge College, in Canada, entitled: The International Trade in Endangered Species and the Firearm Nexus.
- April: The 2012 Annual Meeting of the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) in Washington, DC. The morning session was dedicated to a case study of gun violence occurring in six cities during one week in April of 2011. High on the list of strategies to combat gun violence was the use of forensic and technology tools for linking crimes, guns and suspects.
- May: The 3rd South East Europe Ballistic Identification Collaboration Seminar (SEEBICS) was hosted by Forensic Technology in Zagreb, Croatia. Law Enforcement and Firearms Experts from across south east Europe and elsewhere shared their firearm investigation challenges and best practices.
- June: Australia’s ministers agreed to roll out the Australian Ballistics Identification Network (ABIN) nationwide. Work is underway.
- July: The U.S. Attorney General and Mayor of Philadelphia announced the Violent Crime Reduction Partnership (VCRP). The VCRP brings together key stakeholders who can contribute to the law enforcement operations needed to reduce violent crime in the greater Philadelphia area. Several months later - the results: The U.S. Attorney's Office charged 92 defendants. The ATF made more than 100 arrests and seized 81 firearms. The U.S. Marshals arrested more than 300 fugitives. The DEA made 258 arrests seized more than 540 pounds of illegal drugs, nearly $1.5 million and more than 30 firearms. The FBI made more than 140 arrests.
- August: A man named Gonzalez who had gotten away with murder for nine years was finally convicted and sentenced to 50 years in prison. The murder of Juan Carlos Cena in Anaheim, CA, was solved through a collaboration of Anaheim Detectives, a forensic expert from Santa Ana and scientists at Forensic Technology of Montreal. It wasn’t the first time that Rocky Edwards, the Santa Ana Police Department’s firearms examiner, had borrowed use of our IBIS TRAX-3D technology to work on bullet comparisons that many once though impossible – to date he has four such difficult cases under his belt – each one pointing out the killer.
- September: The Boston Police & the Philippines National Police (PNP) received the prestigious August Vollmer Award for Excellence in Forensic Science given by the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP). Boston received it for its statistically proven success in adopting new IBIS BULLETRAX-3D technology in the category of: Innovation in Forensic Technology. The PNP received it for its work with IBIS BRASSTRAX-3D technology in solving a series of thirty-six violent crimes leaving thirty eight people dead and 34 wounded across ten cities and seven provinces over a two year period, in the category of: Significant Investigative Value in a Major Crime.
- October: The delegates attending the IACP Annual Conference in San Diego adopted a resolution which supports the implementation of regional crime gun processing protocols which the IACP views as a best practice for the investigation of firearm related crimes and encourages law enforcement officials, prosecuting attorneys and forensic experts to collaborate on the design of mutually agreeable protocols best suited for their region.
- November: INTERPOL’s Ballistics Information Network (IBIN) proved its worth where it counted most, on the street – in this case - the streets of Portugal and Spain, where police using IBIS technology were able to share and leverage their ballistic data through IBIN to develop two members of a violent transnational gang in Spain who were responsible for a series of violent carjackings and a murder in Portugal. Discovering a link between these crimes would not have been possible just a year ago.
- December: ATF’s almost 200 or so NIBIN Program partners surpassed a global milestone of 50,000 IBIS hits representing the generation of new investigative information across the more than 100,000 shooting crimes that were linked.
So looking back over the past twelve months what do YOU think? Was it a resolution kept or one abandoned? Let me know.
If you’ve taken the time to read this in silence
You certainly care about gun crime and violence
So no matter your leaning - to the left or the right
Merry Christmas to all and to all a goodnight!