Ohio announces $10.5 million initiative aimed at solving gun crimes

A new $10.5 million initiative was announced Thursday that will focus on helping local law enforcement solve violent crimes in Ohio.

The Ohio Ballistics Testing Initiative will provide law enforcement more access to technology to help them solve deadly shootings and other gun violence, Gov. Mike DeWine said.

“It’s going to give local law enforcement, as well as the highway patrol, the ability to solve a lot of crimes,” DeWine said. “And because of this, there will be crimes that will be solved and violent offenders taken off the street that would not have been taken off but for this initiative.”

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The money, $9.2 million distributed to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office with the rest to the Ohio State Highway Patrol, will go to buying more National Integrated Ballistic Information Network units.

“Firearm forensic scientists use NIBIN to analyze microscopic markings on bullets and shell casings associated with criminal investigations and compare them to firearm evidence connected to other crimes,” the governor’s office said. “A match indicates that the same firearm may have been used in multiple shootings, and law enforcement can use this information as an investigative lead.”

The money will increase the number of units from seven to 16, and is expected to give law enforcement more chances to submit evidence and provide for a quicker turnaround time to get results, the governor said.

It’s important to give law enforcement the tools to solve violent crimes, DeWine said. An unofficial count by his office found more than 1,000 people have been injured by gun violence in Ohio over the past 18 months, he said, and about 650 people were killed in shootings.

Children have also been victims of gun violence in that time span, he said, and many of the people who commit gun violence here can’t legally own a gun to begin with.

“We must do more to hold accountable the relatively small number of criminals who are the dangerous, violent criminals who are responsible for most of the violence in Ohio,” he said.

Greene County Sheriff Scott Anger said the program will help his office and other law enforcement in the county solve crimes. He said before becoming sheriff, he worked as a drug task force commander and through investigations recovered a large number of guns, but did not have an outlet like NIBIN to test them.

“Just in our county within the last three weeks, we’ve had a drive-by shooting at a restaurant where we found casings,” Anger said. “We are slowly in our county getting involved in NIBIN, but this is going to be a big boost for us in our county to get more of our new cases into the system, and the backlog cases into the system, to get things moving and get violent criminals off the street.”

“This is an initiative that we are very excited about,” he said.

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