TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Tucson Police have another tool to help take guns---and criminals off the street. The Federal agency that regulates firearms is giving special recognition to the TPD crime gun intelligence unit.
Now Tucson Police are tied into a Federal database that makes it easier to tie firearms to crimes, before those guns can be used in another crime.
When criminals fire guns and run away they often leave valuable evidence behind. When a gun ejects a shell it leaves marks as unique as a fingerprint. ATF, the Federal Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives keeps a database that helps law enforcement recognize when a gun connects to multiple crimes.
Now ATF has recognized Tucson Police for doing a good job meeting the requirements of the program. One of those requirements is to be ready to analyse a shell casing seven days a week because a speedy ID could help prevent a new shooting.
Gabriel Pinon is the chief ATF agent for Arizona and part of New Mexico. He says, “And if we can get those cartridges and casings within 48 hours into the NIBIN (National Integrated Ballistic Information Network) machine and get them correlated then we're generating those leads as quickly as possible and attempt to identify who the trigger pullers are and essentially preventing more gun violence within those communities.”
In September Tucson Police used the system to determine the same gun was used in two drive by shootings and an aggravated assault. They knew who owned the gun and arrested him.
Tucson Police Captain James Wakefield says the shell matching can be powerful evidence that’s very convincing in court but police still have to use other techniques to prove who actually fired the gun.
“So that's where strong investigators, aggressive investigators come into play. They use technology. We all have cell phones in our pockets, we find casings on the ground and are able to correlate them and identify something. And we're able to identify. Perhaps there's a cell tower notification that you were standing in that same spot at the same time and we can correlate all those items together.”
And ATF is working to build cooperation where larger agencies can read shell casings for smaller agencies that may not have the special equipment required.