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Gun-Tracing Technology Aiding Louisville Police Solve Cases

Despite the chaos and commotion the night of Sept. 23, 2020 as hundreds of people marched on Louisville's streets at the height of the 2020 racial justice protests, police were able to zero in quickly on the source of gunshots. Witnesses identified Larynzo Johnson as the shooter. When he was apprehended, his firearm was tested and showed that casings found on the scene came from it. While police say they would have eventually identified Johnson as the shooter, it wouldn't have happened so quickly without the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network — known as NIBIN, the Louisville Courier Journal reports. Firearms leave unique markings on bullets when rounds are fired, and the shell casings collected at the scene took just minutes to show police they'd come from the same gun. As cities endure a surge in violent crime, the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is promoting the use of this technology to take trigger pullers off the street.

In Kentucky, the agency says there's been a drastic increase in participation by police departments in the past few years. It says the system has helped lead to a forty three percent drop in nonfatal criminal shootings in Louisville in the first five months of this year. "That’s a significant achievement, especially for a department that is down 25-30 percent of their healthy staffing levels," said Shawn Morrow, top ATF agent in Louisville. The ultimate goal is to help solve more crimes by having all of Kentucky's police departments enter data from all of the shell casings found at crime scenes and all confiscated guns into the NIBIN system. There were less than 1,000 submissions annually statewide a few years ago. Now the rate is are approaching 10,000 a year. As the understanding of the benefits of this resource has grown, more NIBIN sites have been established. In 2020, Kentucky had two sites. Now there are four sites — two in Louisville — as well as a mobile unit.


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