ATF’s Mobile Testing Van Rolls into Twin Cities for Summer To Process Ballistic Evidence

Even if witnesses to a shooting choose not to speak with police, a gun or any other piece of evidence left behind can help piece together the events.

According to an announcement made on Thursday by William McCrary, special agent in charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ St. Paul field division, the temporary addition of a National Integrated Ballistic Information Network mobile van in the Twin Cities will enable cartridge casings to be tested more quickly, potentially tying crime scenes and suspects.

He and others came to the conclusion that more assistance was required due to the ongoing rise in gun offenses. There has been a delay at the state to process casings since there is more evidence to test.

According to McCrary, “Law enforcement requires timely intelligence and clues, and this will directly effect that.” Ballistic evidence “may provide investigators a greater opportunity to identify and arrest shooters before they reoffend,” McCrary continued. Ballistic evidence can link shootings.

The NIBIN system is maintained and used by the ATF, who also makes it available to state, local, and federal law enforcement organizations around the United States that submit their own ballistic evidence data into the system.

Using marks left on cartridge casings when a pistol is shot, the system matches photos of submitted ballistics data from shooting sites and recovered weapons and gives law enforcement information on instances that may be connected.

Minnesota presently has three permanent NIBIN machines. One is utilized to process evidence for the Minneapolis Police Department, the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office, and the BCA, which processes evidence from all around the state.

McCrary claimed he asked ATF headquarters for the mobile NIBIN van. The van’s technology will be available to law enforcement, but it won’t be going to crime sites; it will remain at BCA headquarters in St. Paul for a while.

“Tools like these allow us to acquire critical information to stop these crimes and hold criminals accountable during this time when we’ve witnessed a large rise in violent crime and gun-related crime across the Twin Cities,” said Drew Evans, BCA superintendent.

At Minneapolis’ Boom Island Park on Monday night, seven people were shot and suffered injuries, several of them badly. The previous weekend in Minneapolis, four individuals were shot and injured close to the Stone Arch Bridge.

There have been 1,241 reports of shots fired in St. Paul this year without any injuries, an increase of more than 4% from the same time last year. According to police department statistics, there have been 136 persons shot and either injured or killed in St. Paul, which is a 26% rise from the same period last year.

Although the BCA has a backlog of evidence that has to be tested, Evans stated that adding a second NIBIN machine will temporarily double the agency’s capacity. According to an agency representative, the BCA completes cases involving an imminent public threat in less than a day.

The St. Paul police have been busy inputting evidence into the NIBIN system that the ATF is loaning to a variety of law enforcement agencies.

Within 24 to 48 hours, McCrary stated, “Our aim is to turn around NIBIN leads and deliver the information back to the investigators.” Basically, when it’s still hot on the path.

Two additional NIBIN machines are being purchased by the BCA, and it will take roughly six months for them to be operational, according to Evans.

They are supported by a state-specific American Rescue Plan allocation. Although the data connections and other costs aren’t included in the cost of the computers, they total around $270,000.

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