Ballistic Evidence Processing in the U.S.
About the Project
Professor Maguire and his colleagues recently completed a national study on how American police agencies use automated ballistic imaging methods to investigate gun-related crime. The study was led by Professor Bill King at Sam Houston State University's College of Criminal Justice in Huntsville, Texas.
The study examined the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN), a nationwide database operated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). Firearms leave distinguishing marks or "toolmarks" on bullets and shell casings. NIBIN contains digital images of bullets and shell casings that reveal these toolmarks. NIBIN can be searched by investigators, often enabling them to connect evidence from different offenses to the same weapon.
The study explored how NIBIN is used by investigators, the linkages between crime labs and investigators, and patterns in the extent to which different law enforcement agencies use NIBIN as an investigative tool. The study revealed new insights about the role of forensic technologies in the investigation of gun-related crime. Professor Maguire and his colleagues are currently preparing a series of publications from this project.
For more information on this project, click the Links tab to the right.
We are grateful to the National Institute of Justice for funding this important research; to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives for their cooperation and support; and to Sam Houston State University's College of Criminal Justice for issuing a subcontract to American University that enabled Professor Maguire and his students to participate.