Wheeling police get help with unsolved gun-related crimes


WHEELING, W.Va. (WTRF) – The Wheeling Police Department were joined by representatives and technicians with the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN), a program within the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) for a week-long analysis involving firearms.

Wheeling Police and NIBIN joined forces in an effort to help area law enforcement agencies link unsolved criminal cases through firearm ballistic evidence.

We can identify which crime guns were used in acts of violence and more quickly response and investigate those incidents.

Matt Bassett, Special Agent

WPD is serving as a host site for the NIBIN Mobile Unit, which is comprised of a van and shoot trailer. The unit is being dispatched throughout various areas of the state to help police departments work on case backlogs.

Together, NIBIN and law enforcement work to connect criminally seized weapons with shell casings found at crimes scenes in hopes to make a connection and further on-going gun-related investigations.

The Wheeling Police fully recognizes the importance of relationships like the one we have with ATF. WPD also understands the importance of tracing and submissions of firearms and ballistic evidence to be analyzed and entered in NIBIN and have been making those submissions for years. This Mobile Unit can assist us and other local agencies throughout the region to hopefully link those violent crimes and offenders that cross jurisdictional boundaries. WPD is honored to host the ATF Mobile NIBIN unit.

Chief Shawn Schwertfeger, Wheeling Police Department

How does it work?

The weapon in question is first test-fired in the mobile unit, then the shell casing is collected and analyzed. The NIBIN Mobile Unit will take 3D and 4D imaging of the ballistic evidence. The NIBIN technology then compares images of submitted ballistic evidence from shooting scenes and recovered firearms and produces a list of possible similar results.

Trained NIBIN technicians then conduct a correlation review of these results, identifying NIBIN leads or potential links or associations from the same firearm. The specific law enforcement agency is then informed of the results to help with their on-going investigation.

The success of NIBIN relies heavily on the outstanding partnerships between ATF and the West Virginia law enforcement community. ATF’s crime gun intelligence, including the NIBIN Mobile Unit, assists this partnership by identifying shooters, across jurisdictions, before they can reoffend. Together, we are using this technology to assist in combating violent crime and promoting public safety in Wheeling and the surrounding communities. ATF is thankful for these partnerships.

R. Shawn Morrow, ATF Special Agent in Charge, Louisville Division

The NIBIN Mobile Unit was at no cost to the city of Wheeling, or local law enforcement

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