New state law enforcement hub focuses on guns used in violent crimes

A new centralized law enforcement hub focuses exclusively on investigating and preventing gun violence, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced Tuesday during a media briefing.

The Central Ohio Crime Gun Intelligence Center is up and running, housed within the Ohio Department of Public Safety. It is a collaboration between the Columbus Division of Police, Ohio State Highway Patrol, Ohio Narcotics Intelligence Center, Ohio Attorney General’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

At the core of the gun intelligence center is the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network, which was developed by the ATF to help law enforcement connect gun crimes nationwide.

The technology is remarkable, the governor said.

“It compares ballistic evidence from shell casings, allowing investigators to essentially map out a gun’s criminal history, when it’s been fired and where,” DeWine said. “When crimes scenes have the same gun in common authorities can use that information combined with other evidence like surveillance video, ShotSpotter data and vehicle descriptions to build a case and to identify who pulled the trigger at each offense.”

Ohio State Highway Patrol Col. Charles Jones said the CGIC is the only national network that allows for the capture and comparison of ballistic evidence.

“The system analyzes expended shell casings from firearms by conducting a microscopic examination of the tool marks left on the casings from the gun it was fired from. These tool marks are unique and create a fingerprint for the firearm, he said.

When the system finds matches, it alerts all associated law enforcement so authorities can work collaboratively to help solve crimes involving the same gun.

The Central Ohio CGIC began operations in July and is available to assist law enforcement agencies throughout Central Ohio free of charge. Since its launch, teams have connected numerous guns to crimes that were committed both recently and several years ago, the governor said.

One such case involved shots fired into a house in Columbus in June. No gun was found, but shell casings were recovered, DeWine said.

The NIBIN trace found that the gun was used in May 2022 in a homicide; in January 2022 in another homicide; in August 2021 in a shooting; in December 2020 in a shooting; in November 2020 to fire shots in to a house and car; and before that, shell casings from that gun were found in October 2020 at a shots fired scene, he said.

“This is a lot of information, but it’s information that intelligence analyst investigators can use to pinpoint the person or people who’ve been using this gun,” DeWine said.

The Central Ohio CGIC is now the second full-scale crime gun intelligence center in the state, joining the center operated by the Cincinnati Police Department.

Ohio also has NIBIN stations at police departments and crime labs in Dayton, Cleveland, Canton and Toledo.

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