Using ballistics technology to solve crimes

New Ballistics technology

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - Huntsville and Madison officers are solving murders one shell casing at a time. Technology is helping local law enforcement track down shooting suspects, as every bullet leaves trace of evidence for investigators.

“There’s different types of ballistic evidence,” Huntsville Police Department Lieutenant Michael Johnson said. “You have bullets, you have shell casings. These things are a fingerprint for a weapon. It’s those fingerprints we extract from those machines.”

Lieutenant Johnson said about three years ago the department got new ballistics technology that allows them to enter this evidence into the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network, or NIBIN for short.

This technology is shared by the Huntsville Police Department and the Madison County Sheriff’s Office. Other agencies are also able to use the technology.

Before getting this technology, Lieutenant Johnson said his department had to send off their ballistics evidence. Now they do it at the sheriff’s office, which means faster answers for victims’ families.

This is something ATF Acting Special Agent in charge, Toby Taylor, said is essential.

“We are matching crime scenes and shootings through multiple jurisdictions that we previously wouldn’t know are connected,” Acting Special Agent Taylor said.

When you put the numbers to the test, the technology works. Over the past three years, Huntsville Police have cleared anywhere from about 81% to 96% of homicides in the city, higher than the national average.

Right next door, Madison County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Brent Patterson said this technology is so successful because of the teamwork between agencies.

“We are working towards one goal that is working together to solve crimes where ballistics and firearms are used,” Patterson said. “Not just locally but all across the United States.”

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