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National Ballistics Network Access Expanded to Better Serve All Ohio Law Enforcement - AG Yost Announces Latest Service for Local Agencies


(COLUMBUS, Ohio) — Law enforcement agencies across Ohio now have direct access to a national digital ballistics database through the Bureau of Criminal Investigation, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost announced today.

BCI’s crime laboratories in Bowling Green, London and Richfield recently added hardware connected to the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN) and are able to accept crime guns and cartridge cases submitted by law enforcement.

“NIBIN is a proven, science-based technology that can help counter the plague of gun violence,” Yost said. “This is a tool for all Ohio law enforcement agencies, from the smallest village with only a part-time chief to the largest agency in the state. BCI takes the evidence and processes it free of charge.”  

NIBIN, which is operated by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), makes 3D scans of cartridge cases and compares those to millions of other images in the database, thereby identifying links to previously unconnected gun crimes in Ohio and across the country.

BCI’s labs are directly linked to the ATF’s NIBIN National Correlational and Training Center (NNCTC) in Alabama, so cartridge cases collected from crime scenes can be sent through NIBIN to the center and analyzed within hours. The results provided to local detectives, when combined with other evidence, can lead to faster identification of criminals. 

As part of its NIBIN expansion, BCI recently brought online five additional NIBIN units – two each in Bowling Green and London, and one in Richfield, which previously housed the bureau’s only NIBIN station.

This expanded access is crucial because NIBIN’s effectiveness as a crime-fighting tool improves as the database grows. The more cartridge cases that are entered into NIBIN, the better the chances of linking gun crimes and capturing criminals.

“I’m excited to see how NIBIN success stories ramp up across the state in the coming years,” Yost said. “Think about DNA. As DNA technology grew and more and more agencies submitted profiles into the national CODIS database, solving crimes through DNA eventually became commonplace.
“NIBIN holds similar promise, only for guns.”

How NIBIN works

When a firearm is fired, it leaves a unique marking on a cartridge case. Cartridge cases collected at a crime scene can be entered into NIBIN and compared to images of cases recovered from other crime scenes, potentially linking crimes and firearms.

Law enforcement agencies submit cartridge cases and crime guns to a BCI lab for NIBIN entry. Specially trained BCI technicians enter the evidence into NIBIN and then the images are correlated by BCI or the ATF’s National Correlation and Training Center.

When a cartridge case is matched, a lead is created and a correlation report is sent to the case investigator. Upon receiving the report, an investigator can, if needed, request further assistance from BCI in developing the lead. Those resources include the bureau’s:

  • Firearms Unit, which performs comparative forensic analysis.
  • DNA Unit, which can obtain offender profiles from firearms and cartridge cases.
  • Criminal Intelligence Unit, which provides digital forensics, data mapping and analysis, and subject intelligence.

Steve Irwin: 614-728-5417


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