The National Integrated Ballistics Information Network allows law enforcement agencies to share ballistics intelligence across the United States. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) runs NIBIN and is hopeful that more states will begin using the technology. However, crime labs in California are not mandated to use the life-saving network, NBC Bay Area reports. California’s Department of Justice is the reason that the intelligence sharing program is not utilized.
Before NIBIN, firearms examiners had to perform ballistic examinations manually. As you can imagine, the process was extremely time consuming, time not being of the essence when it comes to solving a crime. NIBIN gives examiners the ability to enter cartridge casing evidence into the Integrated Ballistic Identification System, according to the ATF. The information collected is matched against images in the database, allowing law enforcement across state lines to be more effective. The ATF writes:
The NIBIN Program automates ballistics evaluations and provides actionable investigative leads promptly. NIBIN is the only interstate automated ballistic imaging network in operation in the United States and is available to most major population centers in the United States.
Resistance Against NIBIN
While the majority of California law enforcement agencies in urban areas use NIBIN, the ten state-run crime labs operated by the California Department of Justice are not utilizing the system, according to the article. California Assemblyman Evan Low introduced a bill that would close the gaps by compelling law enforcement to enter all guns and shell casings recovered at crime scenes into NIBIN. Interestingly, California’s Attorney General’s Office lobbied against the bill and succeeded; the reasons being the cost, competing technology already in use, and a resistance to any mandates instructing crime labs on how to operate.
The Santa Ana Police Department uses NIBIN; however, the Orange County Crime Lab down the street does not and instead uses another system called Evofinder®, according to the article. Unfortunately, NIBIN and Evofinder systems are unable to communicate; which means that crucial information is probably not being shared as quickly as possible.
“[Evofinder] gave us the ability to process bullets immediately with the same system that we were doing cartridge cases with at a much lower cost,” said Bruce Houlihan, the director of Orange County’s crime lab.
Please take a moment to watch a short video on the subject:
If you are having trouble viewing the video, you can see it here.
Assemblymen Low plans to reintroduce his bill again next year.
Orange County Defense Attorney
Please contact the Law Office of Ronald G. Brower if you are facing criminal charges in California. With decades of experience helping clients acquire favorable outcomes in their case, Attorney Brower can provide that same level of commitment and excellence in your case.