5
Current Ballistic Image Databases: NIBIN and the State Reference Databases

Computerized image analysis systems, such as the Integrated Ballistics Identification System (IBIS), brought the promise of overcoming some of the limitations of dealing effectively with open case files of ballistics evidence. Well utilized, a ballistic image database maintained by an individual law enforcement agency could now surpass previous limitations of time and human recall. “Human memory or selected bullet or cartridge casing photographs [were] the only tools normally available” to draw connections between ballistics evidence in different cases; “it [was] not normally feasible to be able to link cases beyond a few weeks or months unless investigative intelligence otherwise links the cases” (Tontarski and Thompson, 1998:642). But another vexing challenge to traditional examination remained: the ability to draw connections between cases between different law enforcement agencies and different geographic areas. To meet this need—to make it easier for agencies in a geographic region to submit evidence for imaging and comparison and to make it possible to highlight possible connections between cases across geographic lines—a wider network of ballistic imaging sites was necessary. Over the course of the 1990s, the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN) emerged and developed to meet this need.

In this chapter we describe the NIBIN program, two main policy options for which—maintenance as is or enhancement by various means—we are charged to assess. We describe the historical evolution of the program in Section 5–A and its current structure in Section 5–B. We then turn to various measures of the network’s usage (5–C) and performance (5–D). Lastly, we describe in some detail in Section 5–E the existing reference bal-



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5 Current Ballistic Image Databases:  NIBIN and the State   Reference Databases Computerized image analysis systems, such as the Integrated Ballistics  Identification  System  (IBIS),  brought  the  promise  of  overcoming  some  of  the  limitations  of  dealing  effectively  with  open  case  files  of  ballistics  evi- dence.  Well  utilized,  a  ballistic  image  database  maintained  by  an  indi- vidual law enforcement agency could now surpass previous limitations of  time  and  human  recall.  “Human  memory  or  selected  bullet  or  cartridge  casing  photographs  [were]  the  only  tools  normally  available”  to  draw  connections  between  ballistics  evidence  in  different  cases;  “it  [was]  not  normally feasible to be able to link cases beyond a few weeks or months  unless  investigative  intelligence  otherwise  links  the  cases”  (Tontarski  and  T   hompson, 1998:642). But another vexing challenge to traditional exami- nation  remained:  the  ability  to  draw  connections  between  cases  between  different law enforcement agencies and different geographic areas. To meet  this need—to make it easier for agencies in a geographic region to submit  evidence for imaging and comparison and to make it possible to highlight  possible connections between cases across geographic lines—a wider net- work of ballistic imaging sites was necessary. Over the course of the 1990s,  the  National  Integrated  Ballistic  Information  Network  (NIBIN)  emerged  and developed to meet this need. In  this  chapter  we  describe  the  NIBIN  program,  two  main  policy  options for which—maintenance as is or enhancement by various means— we are charged to assess. We describe the historical evolution of the pro- gram in Section 5–A and its current structure in Section 5–B. We then turn  to various measures of the network’s usage (5–C) and performance (5–D).  Lastly, we describe in some detail in Section 5–E the existing reference bal- 

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 BALLISTIC IMAGING listic image databases operated by the states of Maryland and New York.  NIBIN and the state databases are decidedly not directly connected—as  described in the section, the systems are physically walled off from each  other as well as being distinctly different in their definition and composi- tion. However, they are based on the same technical platform, and lessons  from observing the state databases in operation can also inform possible  enhancements  for  the  NIBIN  program.  We  return  to  the  NIBIN  policy  options in Chapter 6. As with Chapter 4, a summary and our conclusions  on the evidence in this chapter are in Chapter 6. 5–A EvOLuTION OF THE NIbIN PROgRAM 5–A.1 Early Development The program that evolved into NIBIN began in 1992 with the develop- ment by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF)  of the CEASEFIRE initiative, the objective of which was to “[enter] into a  national computer system all data obtained from firearms seized as a result  of  a  criminal  investigation  by  ATF  personnel”  (NIBIN  Program,  2001).  Though  oriented  around  a  particular  intervention  by  ATF  personnel,  the  scope of the initiative was broader: “ATF intended to allow State and local  law enforcement agencies to use and retrieve information for investigative  purposes, and to submit information from their own firearms-related crimi- nal investigations” (Thompson et al., 2002:10). Work on the database com- ponent developed in stages, beginning in 1993 with a partnering between  the  ATF  National  Laboratory  Center  in  Ammendale,  Maryland,  and  the  Washington, DC, Metropolitan Police Department. This initial pilot work  made it possible “to evaluate the impact of operator variability on image  quality and matching, networking limitations, and ease of operator use for  data entry, as well as correlations and system maintenance” (Tontarski and  Thompson, 1998:646). The program grew to include other regional affilia- tions between ATF laboratories and major state and local law enforcement  agencies:  partnerships  emerged  between  the  ATF  Atlanta  laboratory  and  the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, and between the ATF Walnut Creek,  California, laboratory to the Oakland Police Department and Contra Costa  County Sheriff’s laboratories. Also in 1993, the BULLETPROOF system— the  bullets-only  predecessor  to  IBIS  (see  Section  4–A)—was  adopted  as  CEASEFIRE’s hardware and software platform. In 1995, ATF developed a set of criteria for participation in CEASEFIRE  by state and local law enforcement agencies, including the population and  firearms-related crime rates of areas; ATF also considered “known firearms  trafficking  routes  that  cross  jurisdictional  lines”  in  selecting  sites  (NIBIN  Program,  2001:6).  Priority  was  given  to  agencies  that  had  demonstrated 

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 CURRENT BALLISTIC IMAGE DATABASES willingness to participate in joint investigative programs with the ATF. This  initial set of criteria developed into the guidelines now used to evaluate new  applicants to host NIBIN sites; see Box 5-1. 5–A.2 DRugFIRE, Interoperability, and a unified System By the mid-1990s the looming problem of two potentially overlapping  national  databases  became  more  apparent:  the  ATF  continued  to  pursue  development of CEASEFIRE at the same time that the Federal Bureau of  Investigation (FBI) worked with law enforcement agencies to populate the  DRUGFIRE  database  (see  Box  5-2).  The  DRUGFIRE  and  CEASEFIRE  systems were initially complementary, in that DRUGFIRE was focused on  imaging cartridge case evidence and CEASEFIRE on imaging bullets. How- BOX 5-1 Criteria for Participation in the NIBIN Program To request participation in the NIBIN program, an executive of a state or local law enforcement agency had to submit a letter including the following information: • the population of the area to be served by automated ballistics technology, • the number of firearms-related violent crimes in the area serviced by the requesting agency, • statistics on firearms-related assaults and homicides for the previous year, • the number of firearms recovered by the requesting agency for the previous year, • the number of firearms traced by the requesting agency during the previous year, • whether the requesting agency had a firearms/toolmark examiner, • whether the requesting agency would dedicate staff to support the data entry of ballistics information into the IBIS equipment, • whether the requesting agency had a bullet and casing recovery system, • whether the requesting agency had sufficient space that was climate con- trolled for placement of the equipment, • whether the agency would allow other agencies to use the IBIS equipment if the requesting agency received it, and • whether the agency would enter into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the ATF regarding the administration of the program. SOURCE: Reproduced from U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Inspector General (2005:85–86).

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 BALLISTIC IMAGING BOX 5-2 DRUGFIRE “Conceived by the FBI in 1991 as a part of the response to a call from the Office of National Drug Control Policy for an emergency action plan to help the Washington, DC Police cope with the rising tide of drug-related violence,” the DRUGFIRE system was established in 1993 using a computer system de- veloped by Mnemonics Systems, Inc. (Denio, 1999:383). DRUGFIRE differed from the successor IBIS in terms of which types of evidence were implemented first. IBIS began with BULLETPROOF (analyzing bullets) and later added the capacity to image cartridge cases (BRASSCATCHER). At the time of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (1994) benchmark evaluation of DRUGFIRE and BULLETPROOF, DRUGFIRE was solely limited to the analysis of cartridge cas- ings; the ROTOSCAN add-on to acquire bullet images was developed around 1996 (Tulleners, 2001:2-2). In their approach to acquiring and analyzing cartridge case evidence, DRUGFIRE and NIBIN diverge in two important respects. First, for purposes of comparison with other exhibits, DRUGFIRE “looked only at the breech face marks and not the firing pin impressions,” while IBIS can separately generate scores and rankings by breech face, firing pin, and ejector marks. More fundamentally, DRUGFIRE used oblique illumination (side light), “much as used by firearms examiners at their comparison microscopes,” while IBIS uses only radial illumina- tion (center light) images for scoring purposes. The DRUGFIRE system typically required the acquisition of “two breech face images at 90-degree orientation” per exhibit (Tulleners, 2001:2-6). Using DRUGFIRE technology, “cartridge cases are searched at approximately ten images per second; bullets are searched at approximately one image per sec- ond.” Accordingly, “for large databases, users are encouraged to use filters based on class characteristics so that the number of images passed to the automated search is drastically reduced” (Denio, 1999:384). As of May 1999, DRUGFIRE installations were located in 150 sites (Denio, 1999); Boesman and Krouse (2001) report that about 171 law enforcement agencies participated in DRUGFIRE between 1993 and 2001. Tulleners (2001: D-1) surveyed ballistic image database usage by a number of California law enforcement agencies, including the DRUGFIRE data collected from agencies in southern California (including the Los Angeles Police Department) and main- tained by the Orange County Sheriff’s Department. Across southern California, DRUGFIRE was credited with 431 cold hits on a total of 37,494 entries from center- fire weapons (about 78 percent of which were test fires from recovered firearms and 22 percent were evidence cartridges).

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 CURRENT BALLISTIC IMAGE DATABASES ever, as both systems continued to develop, and as the technology underly- ing both programs was upgraded to handle both bullets and cartridge cases,  practical  concerns  about  redundancy  (the  need  to  maintain  two  systems)  and resources came into greater relief. In 1995 the Office of National Drug Control requested an independent  technical “benchmark evaluation” of the BULLETPROOF and DRUGFIRE  technologies  to  inform  a  comparison  between  the  systems.  The  tests  per- formed during this benchmark evaluation suggested strengths in both sys- tems.  However,  the  evaluation  concluded  that  “processing  casings  and  projectiles on a common versatile platform would best fulfill ballistic imag- ing  requirements.”  This  recommendation  added  impetus  to  the  develop- ment  of  BRASSCATCHER  as  a  counterpart  to  BULLETPROOF,  and  the  combined IBIS system became the norm in existing and new CEASEFIRE  sites in 1996. In  January  1996  the  FBI  and  ATF  jointly  agreed  in  a  memorandum  of  understanding  that  IBIS  and  DRUGFIRE  equipment  should  be  made  interoperable—specifically,  that  both  systems  “are  able  to  (1)  capture  an  image according to a standard protocol and in conformity with a minimum  quality standard and (2) exchange images electronically in such a manner  that an image captured on one system can be analyzed and correlated on the  other” (NIBIN Program, 2001:7). The joint effort was dubbed the NIBIN  system. Accordingly, a contract was established with the National Institute  of Standards and Technology to study the technical interoperability of the  two  systems.  Ultimately,  however,  true  technical  interoperability  of  the  systems—converting  the  data  in  each  system  so  that  they  would  be  used  on  both  the  DRUGFIRE  and  IBIS  platforms—was  not  achieved.  Instead,  in  1999  a  new  memorandum  of  understanding  established  a  partnership  structure: the technical platform of the ATF program (IBIS) was adopted  as the hardware/software standard, and the network would be constructed  using the high-speed secure infrastructure maintained by the FBI. The partnership between the FBI and ATF in building NIBIN was fur- ther cemented by the structure of the NIBIN executive board (consisting of  one senior ATF executive, one senior FBI executive, and an executive from  a state or local law enforcement agency) and its technical working groups.  However,  by  October  2003,  it  was  recognized  that  having  two  agencies  responsible for different aspects of the same national program was an inef- fective management arrangement. Accordingly, network responsibilities and  authority  were  transferred  from  the  FBI  to  ATF,  and  ATF  became  solely  responsible for all aspects of the NIBIN program.

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 BALLISTIC IMAGING 5–A.3 Full Implementation State and local law enforcement agencies were added to the network in  stages. An initial network connecting several northeastern agencies was set  up in late 1998 (McLean, 1999:392), and the steps toward full rollout of  the program were formalized in a strategic plan in 2000. The largest push in  the rollout occurred during a 2-year deployment in 2001–2002, “in which  160  sites  have  received  IBIS  equipment,”  moving  toward  a  “completed”  network of “approximately 233 sites” (Thompson et al., 2002:11).  Thompson  et  al.  (2002:11–12)  note  that  “agencies  may  become  part  of  the  NIBIN  program  in  two  ways:  through  inclusion  on  the  tentative  deployment list or by nomination.” In addition to signing a memorandum  of  understanding—agreeing  to  abide  by  ATF’s  regulations  for  use  of  the  equipment  including  the  entry  of  evidence  from  crime-related  guns  only  (Thompson et al., 2002:12)— An  agency  must  commit  its  own  resources  to  the  NIBIN  program.  .  .  .  Agencies  joining  NIBIN  must  commit  to  maintaining  adequate  staff  to  support the program, and will need a comparison microscope and access  to a bullet recovery system to testfire firearms. Agencies receiving a Remote  Data Acquisition Station (RDAS) must have a firearms examiner available  to  evaluate  correlation  results;  in  some  labs  it  is  helpful  to  have  trained  technicians make entries into the IBIS system, freeing examiners to review  results and confirm hits by examination of the original evidence. . . . Part- ner agencies must commit to entering as much crime gun evidence into the  unit as possible, and to sharing intelligence information and evidence with  other law enforcement agencies. An  audit  report  on  the  NIBIN  program  by  the  U.S.  Department  of  Justice (DOJ), Office of Inspector General (2005) indicates that “the ATF  has  not  made  any  plans  to  deploy  IBIS  equipment  to  additional  agencies  beyond [those] that have already received it,” save for case-by-case requests  by individual agencies and relocation of equipment from low-usage sites.  However, the report suggests efforts to expand NIBIN technically by link- ing it with the ATF’s N-Force case management system and to the National  Tracing Center. “The ATF is also conducting a pilot program called ‘COPS  and DOCS,’ which joins together health care and law enforcement profes- sionals who recover firearms evidence and enter it into NIBIN. . . . When  gunshot  victims  are  brought  into  the  hospital,  bullets  from  wounds  are  packaged with identifying information and placed in an evidence box that  is located in the hospital’s operating room.” The recovered bullets are then  retrieved  and  entered  into  NIBIN  by  ATF  (U.S.  Department  of  Justice,  Office of Inspector General, 2005:13–14).

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9 CURRENT BALLISTIC IMAGE DATABASES 5–b NIbIN CONTENT AND STRuCTuRE 5–b.1 Regions and Partitions As of December 2005, the NIBIN program included 228 partner sites  representing 182 agencies. At least one NIBIN site is located in each state  with the exception of Kentucky. The sites are grouped into 12 geographic  regions, each of which is linked to servers in one of ATF’s three national  laboratories. Servers at the ATF laboratory in Ammendale, Maryland, are  the central hub for NIBIN sites in the northeast and north central states;  servers  in  Atlanta,  Georgia,  link  the  southeast  United  States  and  Puerto  Rico; and Walnut Creek, California, is the focal point for NIBIN sites in  Texas,  the  western  United  States,  Alaska,  Hawaii,  and  Guam.  The  geo- graphic distribution of NIBIN sites and servers is illustrated in Figure 5-1.  The regional servers are central to the operation of NIBIN. They are not  only the central data repository for the region—combining and archiving  data from the distributed sites—but also the “correlation” servers for the  region as well. That is, an exhibit entered into NIBIN in Idaho is uploaded  to  the  Walnut  Creek  servers  for  comparison  with  other  NIBIN  exhibits;  the  correlation  results  are  then  sent  back  to  Idaho  for  review.  Batches  of  exhibits are transferred from the local sites to the regional servers at least  once a day; the exhibits are compiled, comparison scores are generated, and  results and images sent back to the local sites. Each  of  the  regional  servers  is  divided  into  several  partitions;  these  partitions are important because they define the range of automatic com- parisons  (versus  those  comparisons  requested  manually).  For  example,  NIBIN region 1B covers central and southern California, and it is divided  into three partitions (roughly, northern, central, and southern). The south- ern  partition  contains  two  NIBIN  installations:  the  San  Diego  Police  Department  and  the  San  Diego  County  Sheriff’s  Department.  Hence,  an  exhibit entered into NIBIN by the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department is  automatically correlated against exhibits from both San Diego-area NIBIN  sites  (after  uploading  to  Walnut  Creek).  However,  searches  against  data  from other sites—Los Angeles or Orange Counties, for example, or Yuma,  Arizona—must be specially requested by a NIBIN operator. The Inspector  General  audit  of  NIBIN  (U.S.  Department  of  Justice,  Office  of  Inspector  General, 2005:110) notes: Although  regional  and  national  searches  can  be  performed,  they  must  be  manually  selected.  To  perform  a  regional  search,  the  requestor  must  d   esignate where to search from a map of the NIBIN regions. The requestor  is then presented with a list of all the partner agencies in that region, and  can either search against all the partner agencies shown or de-select those  partner agencies that the requestor does not want included in the search. 

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0 BALLISTIC IMAGING 1B 7 Alaska Michigan C Alaska Crime Lab Battle Creek PD Hawaii Detroit PD* Honolulu PD Michigan SP Bridgeport N Micronesia Michigan SP East Lansing Guam PD Michigan SP Grand Rapids Northern California/Nevada Michigan SP Grayling Alameda Co Michigan SP Northville ATF Walnut Creek* Michigan SP Sterling Heights California DOJ Fresno Oakland Co SD California DOJ Sacramento Minnesota Contra Costa Co SO BCA Lab Bemidji Fresno Co SO BCA Lab St. Paul N Oakland PD Hennepin Co SO Sacramento Co DA* Minneapolis PD 1A Salinas PD* North Dakota San Francisco PD* Central North Dakota Dept. of Health San Mateo Co SO ATF Gun Center South Dakota S Santa Clara Co DA* California DOJ Riverside Office of the Attorney General Stockton PD* Las Vegas Metropolitan PD Wisconsin Washoe Co Long Beach PD Wisconsin DOJ Milwaukee OR/ID/WA/MT Los Angeles PD* Wisconsin SP Milwaukee* Idaho State Police Los Angeles SO* Montana DOJ Orange County SO Oregon State Police Santa Ana PD* Washington SP Seattle San Bernardino SO 5 San Bernardino PD Washington SP Spokane Washington SP Tacoma Northern Illinois U.S. Fish & Wildlife Ashland Kern Co/Bakersfield DA Illinois SP Carbondale Ventura Co SO Illinois SP Chicago* Southern Illinois SP Fairview Heights San Diego PD Illinois SP Joliet San Diego Co SO Illinois SP Morton Illinois SP Rockford Illinois SP Springfield Northern Illinois Crime Lab Indiana ATF Indiana SP Evansville Indiana SP Fort Wayne Walnut Creek Indiana SP Lowell Indiana SP HQ* ATF 8 Indianapolis Marion Co* Arizona Lake Co Atlan Arizona DPS Phoenix South Bend PD Arizona DPS Tucson Iowa and Nebraska Arizona DPS Flagstaff Iowa DCI Des Moines Maricopa Co SO Nebraska SP Lincoln Lincoln PD Mesa PD Phoenix PD Omaha PD 2 Tucson PD Kansas Colorado Northern Johnson Co SO CBI Denver Fort Worth PD KBI Kansas City CC Arlington PD CBI Montrose KBI Topeka Dallas PD CBI Pueblo Kansas City PD Colorado Springs PD Garland PD Sedgwick Co Wichita Falls PD New Mexico Missouri Albuquerque PD Oklahoma City PD Missouri State HP New Mexico DPS Santa Fe Oklahoma SBI St. Louis Co PD Clayton 9 Utah Plano PD St. Louis Metro PD SE Missouri Cape Girardeau Northern Utah Lab Ogden SW Institute of Forensic Sci Arkansas Wyoming Texas DPS El Paso Arkansas State Crime Cheyenne State Lab Texas DPS Lubbock Mississippi Texas DPS Tyler Mississippi DPS Biloxi Tulsa PD Mississippi DPS Jacks Southern Jackson PD Austin PD North Louisiana Bexar Co Louisiana State Lab S Corpus Christi PD N Louisiana Lab Ale Texas DPS Austin* North West Delta Mo Texas DPS McAllen South Louisiana Eastern Acadiana New Iberia Fort Bend Co SO Jefferson Parish Lab M Harris Co SO* Louisiana SP Baton R Houston PD* New Orleans PD* Jefferson Co SO St. Tammany Parish S Montgomery Co SO SW Louisiana Lab Lak Pasadena PD FIguRE 5-1  Geographic distribution of NIBIN sites. NOTES: * indicates presence of more than one piece of equipment (e.g., multiple  RDAS stations or combination of RDAS and Matchpoint viewers); see Chapter 4  for description of IBIS equipment. Region numbers are indicated at top of boxes;  partitions are indicated in bold type; portable Rapid Brass Identification (RBI) units    are indicated in italic, nested beneath their RDAS partner site. SOURCE: U.S. Department of Justice Inspector General (2005:App.VI).

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 CURRENT BALLISTIC IMAGE DATABASES 7 10 4 ME/NH/VT/RI/MA Connecticut PD Boston PD* Connecticut SP Lab Meriden* Waterbury PD Maine SP Augusta Bridgeport Massachusetts SP Danvers New Jersey East Lansing Massachusetts SP Sturbridge Bergen Co Grand Rapids Passaic Co SO Massachusetts SP Sudbury Grayling New Hampshire SP Essex Co SO Northville Paterson PD Rhode Island State Lab Kingston Sterling Heights Union Co DPS Vermont DPS Waterbury SD Hamilton SP* Newark PD midji Somerset Co Prosecutor's* Paul 6 Northern New York o SO Erie Co* PD Delaware/Maryland/DC Monroe Co DPS* ATF Ammendale* NYSP Albany a Dept. of Health Baltimore PD* Onondaga Co Baltimore Co PD Southern New York Attorney General FBI Lab Quantico Nassau Co Maryland SP Pikesville Suffolk Co OJ Milwaukee Metropolitan (Washington) PD Westchester Co DPS P Milwaukee* Prince George's Co PD Wilmington PD Ohio Canton/Stark Co Cleveland PD 5 Columbus PD* Hamilton Co Coroner's arbondale Lake Co hicago* Miami Valley Regional ATF airview Heights Ohio BCI Bowling Green oliet Ohio BCI London Ammendale orton Ohio BCI Richfield Youngstown PD ockford pringfield Virginia ois Crime Lab Virginia DFS Fairfax Virginia DFS Norfolk* Evansville Virginia DFS Richmond* Fort Wayne Virginia DFS Roanoke Lowell West Virginia HQ* West Virginia SP ATF Marion Co* Atlanta PD 3 raska Alabama s Moines Alabama DFS Birmingham P Lincoln Alabama DFS Huntsville Alabama DFS Mobile Alabama DFS Montgomery Birmingham PD SO Caribbean City CC Puerto Rico IFS* PR IFS Aquadilla PD PR IFS Arecibo o PR IFS Ponce Virgin Islands PD te HP 3A Georgia PD Clayton 9 ATF Atlanta* tro PD North Carolina/South Carolina ri Cape Girardeau GBI Decatur Arkansas Charleston Co SO GBI Savannah Arkansas State Crime Lab Charlotte PD Valdosta PD Mississippi Cumberland Co SO Georgia Military Mississippi DPS Biloxi Greensboro PD U.S. Army Lab Atlanta Mississippi DPS Jackson Greenville PD North Florida Jackson PD Hickory PD Florida DLE Jacksonville North Louisiana New Hanover Co SO Florida DLE Orlando* Louisiana State Lab Shreveport North Carolina SBI* Orange County SO N Louisiana Lab Alexandria Guilford Co Florida DLE Pensacola North West Delta Monroe High Point PD Florida DLE Tampa* South Louisiana South Carolina SLE Columbia* Florida DLE Tallahassee Greenville Co SO Acadiana New Iberia South Florida Tennessee Jefferson Parish Lab Metairie Broward Co SO Louisiana SP Baton Rouge Knoxville PD Indian River Lab New Orleans PD* Nashville-Davidson Co Metro PD Miami-Dade PD* St. Tammany Parish SO Tennessee BI Memphis Palm Beach Co SD SW Louisiana Lab Lake Charles Tennessee BI Nashville Chattanooga PD

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 BALLISTIC IMAGING In addition, the “national” scope of NIBIN—like the scope of a national  reference ballistic image database (RBID)—suggests an ease in requesting  a  search  against  the  entire  nation  that  is  not  the  case  under  the  current  NIBIN  search.  “To  perform  a  national  search,  the  requestor  must  repeat  the  regional  search  for  each  NIBIN  region”—12  separate  searches—“as  the system will not search all regions at once” (U.S. Department of Justice,  Office of Inspector General, 2005:110). About 25 of the NIBIN installations may be considered satellite sites  in  that  they  possess  only  one  or  more  Rapid  Brass  Identification  (RBI)  units,  portable  units  for  acquiring  images  from  cartridge  evidence.  These  RBI units must be connected with another site’s full Remote Data Acquisi- tion Station (RDAS) in order to transmit collected images to the regional  server; “afterwards, the results are transmitted back through the RDAS unit  to the RBI unit” (U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Inspector General,  2005:10).  Some  departments  have  experienced  major  problems  with  RBI  units, including overheating and data transmission flaws; notably, the (non- NIBIN) Maryland RBID program ultimately returned the RBI it planned to  use to permit the Baltimore Police Department to directly submit database  entries after continued problems (Maryland State Police Forensic Sciences  Division, 2003, 2004). NIBIN  sites  are  meant  to  provide  regional  access  to  ballistic  imaging  technology, and so individual law enforcement agencies within a region may  partner with a NIBIN site to enter evidence as needed. Individual agencies in  states with only one NIBIN installation (e.g., Iowa, Montana, and Wyoming)  may route evidence through that site as they see fit. Several states have NIBIN  sites at regional laboratories maintained by state police, which may be used  by individual city departments, e.g., Virginia’s distribution of NIBIN equip- ment in three regional state labs. Even some major city police departments  do not have their own NIBIN sites and work through state or county NIBIN  sites, such as Chicago, Atlanta, Milwaukee, Memphis, and Seattle. Prominent  among  the  law  enforcement  agencies  that  are  not  NIBIN  participants is the New York City Police Department (NYPD). While NYPD  does follow NIBIN program protocols for the entry of ballistics evidence,  the  department  purchased  and  maintains  its  own  IBIS  equipment;  it  has  not linked directly to NIBIN due to the desire to maintain the integrity of  its own database (McCarthy, 2004). However, NIBIN and NYPD continue  to work on limited ties between the two databases (e.g., mounting archive  data tapes off-site from NYPD for comparison under NIBIN). 5–b.2 Legal Limitations on NIbIN Content ATF  maintains  tight  control  on  the  content  of  the  NIBIN  database,  limiting it only to pieces of evidence recovered at crime scenes or test fired  from  weapons  recovered  by  the  police.  This  prohibition  on  the  entry  of 

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 CURRENT BALLISTIC IMAGE DATABASES noncrime gun exhibits derives from the Firearm Owners’ Protection Act of  1986 (18 U.S.C. 926), which prohibits the establishment of “any system of  registration of firearms, firearms owners, or firearms transactions or dispo- sitions.” It also derives from ATF interpretation of language that is regu- larly applied to the agency’s appropriations. For instance, the 2006 Science,  State,  Justice,  and  Commerce  and  Related  Agencies  Appropriations  Act  (P.L. 109-108) included 12 conditional clauses on the appropriated funds.  First among these is the proviso that “no funds appropriated herein shall  be available for salaries or administrative expenses in connection with con- solidating or centralizing, within the Department of Justice, the records, or  any portion thereof, of acquisition and disposition of firearms maintained  by  Federal  firearms  licensees.”  ATF  has  interpreted  the  acquisition  of  an  image from a specimen fired from a gun for sale as such a “record,” and  hence excluded new guns from consideration in the database.1  5–C NIbIN uSAgE 5–C.1 Deployment One metric by which utilization of NIBIN can be assessed is the number  of participating agencies relative to the number of eligible law enforcement  agencies.  Each  piece  of  evidence  entered  in  NIBIN  is  associated  with  its  source  agency  through  specification  of  an  Originating  Agency  Identifier  (ORI)  code;  ORIs  are  assigned  by  the  FBI  and  are  principally  used  to  identify  reporting  agencies  for  the  Uniform  Crime  Reports.  In  its  audit,  the  U.S.  Department  of  Justice,  Office  of  Inspector  General  (2005:140),  used the total number of ORIs predefined in NIBIN software (for selection  by  evidence-entry  operators)  as  its  measure  of  eligible  agencies.  Hence,  they  concluded  that  231  of  38,717  agencies/ORIs  were  NIBIN  partner  sites. Responding to a draft report, ATF argued that the total number of  ORIs is an inappropriate benchmark (U.S. Department of Justice, Office of  I   nspector General, 2005:130): ATF  believes  that  it  is  misleading  to  use  the  number  of  ORIs  as  the  s   tatistical basis to evaluate technology allocation, program utilization, and  performance because one single agency can have numerous ORIs assigned  to it. By way of example, ATF alone has over 362 ORIs or about fifteen  per field division. Similarly, many of the larger NIBIN State and local law  enforcement partners have multiple ORIs within an agency, and all local  law  enforcement  jurisdictions  have  at  least  one  ORI  number,  regardless  of size. 1  ther clauses in the appropriation act limit the type of information that can be transferred  O or  maintained  in  the  standard  gun  tracing  process  and  prohibit  rules  requiring  a  physical  inventory of the stock maintained by firearms licensees. 

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 CURRENT BALLISTIC IMAGE DATABASES BOX 5-3 NIBIN Definition of “Hit” Definition of a Hit: A linkage of two different crime investigations by the user of the NIBIN technology, where previously there had been no known connection between the investigations. A hit is a linkage between cases, not individual pieces of evidence. Multiple bullets and/or casings may be entered as part of the same case record, in this event, each discovered linkage to an additional case constitutes a hit. A hit must be confirmed by a firearms examiner examining the actual speci- mens under a microscope. Other NIBIN linkages derived by investigative leads, hunches, or previously identified laboratory examinations, are not “hits” according to this definition. There- fore, other linkages previously termed “warm hits” should not be counted as hits. When an interagency hit occurs, the agency initiating and confirming the microscopic comparison will be credited for the hit. Marking Hits in IBIS: Hits meeting the definition above should be linked in IBIS, using the procedures provided in instructional materials from Forensic Technol- ogy WAI, Inc. (FTI). Remember that if a link is confirmed between two cases, it is necessary to note this in each IBIS case record. Linkages derived by investigative leads, hunches, or previously identified labo- ratory examinations should only be noted in the comments section of the IBIS screen. These linkages are not to be designated as hits. When an interagency hit is confirmed, each involved site should mark the hit in IBIS, using procedures provided in instructional materials from FTI. Statistical Reporting: For interagency hits, only the agency initiating and confirm- ing the comparison should include the hit in its statistics reported to ATF NIBIN. Please note in the current version of IBIS, the Crystal Reports function for generating hit statistics may not yield entirely accurate results and should not be used. SOURCE: Reproduced from NIBIN Branch (2003). hit. Hits are calculated in aggregate so that it is not possible to empirically  determine how evidence and nonevidence entries compare in the propensity  to generate hits.  A  basic  summary  of  the  operational  data  is  given  in  Table  5-1.  Car- tridge casings make up about 71 percent of the database entries; in turn,  about 72 percent of those casings are “nonevidence” test fires (as opposed  to “evidence” casings directly recovered at the crime scene). An even larger  fraction—81  percent—of  the  bullets  in  the  database  are  test  fires.  In  this 

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 TAbLE 5-1 NIBIN Usage Data, May 2003–April 2004 Casings Bullets Evidence Test Fire Hits Hits Evidence Test Fire Hits Hits Month (month) (month) Total (month) (total) (month) (month) Total (month) (total) 5/03 2,682 7,410 441,636 166 6,331 546 2,765 195,382 3 293 6/03 3,206 6,471 451,006 160 6,514 637 2,387 198,355 6 299 7/03 3,435 7,423 461,669 190 6,828 727 2,506 201,525 1 300 8/03 2,757 7,169 471,009 160 7,026 554 2,209 204,172 2 302 9/03 3,030 7,672 481,465 250 7,372 607 2,095 206,842 1 298 10/03 2,998 7,069 491,182 204 7,592 506 2,188 209,415 2 300 11/03 2,747 6,990 500,786 156 7,776 543 2,275 212,169 0 300 12/03 2,544 7,206 510,383 201 7,977 507 2,221 214,869 2 302 1/04 2,544 7,129 520,447 207 8,184 680 2,156 217,627 7 305 2/04 3,167 7,549 530,978 147 8,332 543 2,579 220,676 1 306 3/04 3,465 9,662 520,257 249 8,570 625 2,880 223,930 14 316 4/04 3,062 8,606 554,578 228 8,910 510 2,694 226,830 72 388 NOTES: As of April 2004, 397,349 of the 554,578 total cartridge casings in the NIBIN database were from test fires, and 183,756 of the 226,830  bullets in the database were test fires. The apparent reason for the decline in the total number of casings in the NIBIN database between February  and March 2004 is transcription error in the raw spreadsheets for several police departments in Michigan, particularly the Detroit Police Department  (for which the reported total number of casings in February, March, and April 2004, are 19,342, 3,956, and 19,927, respectively). Returns for five  Michigan State Police laboratories and the Oakland, Michigan, Police Department show similar one-time drops in total number of casings (albeit  each with smaller counts than Detroit). Because the monthly totals can reflect deletions of exhibits as well as additions, we have not attempted to  reconstruct the totals by adding from a May 2003 base and instead use the reported (albeit, for at least several agencies in March 2004, flawed)  totals from the source spreadsheets. SOURCE: Data from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (personal communication).

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 CURRENT BALLISTIC IMAGE DATABASES sample  of  months,  March  2004  was  the  peak  month  for  entering  both  b   ullets and casings; for both types of evidence, entry was generally lower in  November–January than in March–July. Absent information on the number  of queries performed and more specifics on the nature of evidence entered,  it  is  not  clear  why  the  number  of  hits  on  bullet  evidence  jumped  from  a  seemingly steady state of less than 10 per month to 14 in March 2004 and  then again to 72 in April 2004; casing hits were generated at an average  of 193 per month. The U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Inspector General (2005:25– 26),  audit  of  NIBIN  had  access  to  a  snapshot  of  the  NIBIN  database  as  of  October  2004,  including  888,447  records  of  bullet  and  cartridge  case  evidence,  514,731  records  of  cases  (groupings  of  exhibits),  and  254,187  records  of  firearms.  Just  as  analysis  showed  that  a  small  percentage  of  sites  accounted  for  a  large  share  of  evidence  entered  into  NIBIN,  high- entry  sites  also  enjoyed  the  largest  percentage  of  the  hits  made  using  the  database. In all, 72 percent of the hits (both bullet and cartridge casings)  were realized by the 20 percent of NIBIN partners who had input the most  entries; the bottom 55 percent of entry-producing partners achieved only 9  percent of the hits (U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Inspector General,  2005:31). Both our set of aggregate administrative data and the Inspector General’s  snapshot of the entire database provide some inkling as to the structure and  composition of the database; still lacking is any ability to describe how the  system is actually used and how it performs. The Inspector General audit  attempted to get a basic sense of the system’s utilization by comparing the  number  of  evidence  entries  put  into  NIBIN  by  individual  sites  with  the  level  of  firearms-related  crimes  those  agencies  reported  under  the  FBI’s  Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) program. That analysis did not progress  far; “meaningful comparisons were not possible based on the available data  because of variables such as population size, population density, geographic  location,  and  other  demographic  factors”  (U.S.  Department  of  Justice,  Office  of  Inspector  General,  2005:30).  However,  the  report  suggests  that  the major deployment of IBIS equipment to complete the planned NIBIN  network  had  worked  to  narrow  a  broader  gap  between  the  number  of  NIBIN entries and the number of gun crimes. We pursued a similar line of analysis in order to study whether a con- nection exists between success in generating hits and the level of crime in  areas. This requires a linkage between the NIBIN usage data and the UCR  data, and such a connection is fraught with complications more fundamen- tal than the quote from the Inspector General audit admits. The Bureau of  Justice  Statistics  (BJS)  has  compiled  a  “crosswalk”  dataset,  linking  UCR  ORI  codes  with  BJS’  Directory  of  Law  Enforcement  Agencies  and  data  from  the  Census  Bureau’s  Governments  Integrated  Directory  (Lindgren 

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 BALLISTIC IMAGING and Zawitz, 2001) in order to estimate the service population of agencies  reported in the UCR. However, defining the service population for a NIBIN  site is complicated (as described in Section 5–B.1): NIBIN partner agencies  process evidence submitted by other agencies because the number of NIBIN  installations  is  relatively  low.  In  states  where  NIBIN  sites  are  located  in  laboratories  of  the  state  police  (e.g.,  Wisconsin  or  Virginia),  comparing  NIBIN  entries  with  crimes  in  the  city  where  the  NIBIN  site  is  located  is  certainly inadequate, yet trying to associate each site with a proportionate  share of the crimes in the entire state is likely inaccurate as well. Due  to  these  difficulties,  we  have  treated  our  own  attempts  to  link  the  NIBIN  operational  data  with  UCR  figures  as  merely  suggestive  and  in no way definitive; yet we judged it important to try to get some sense  of  whether  high-crime  areas  are  likely  to  benefit  from  hits  achieved  by  ballistic image comparisons.4 We erred on the side of simplicity by using  crime data from the NIBIN site’s home city as a proxy for the number of  crimes committed in the site’s service area, combining NIBIN entry counts  in some cases where multiple installations are located in the same city. We  also filtered cases to look only at NIBIN host cities with populations above  10,000. In this way, we augmented the NIBIN dataset with three variables  for those sites for which we believed we could establish a pairing: popula- tion of the city in which the NIBIN site is located in 2003, average number  of  murders  and  non-negligent  manslaughter  incidents  in  2002  and  2003,  and  total  number  of  violent  crimes  (including,  e.g.,  assault  and  forcible  rape) in 2003. After aggregating the information from sites located in the same city  or town and deleting sites with missing information, our analysis dataset  included 105 cases with complete NIBIN, population, and crime informa- tion.  Of  these,  there  were  33  NIBIN  sites/localities  at  which  at  least  one  bullet hit had been obtained and 72 localities with no hits on bullets. The  number of hits when using casings was significantly larger: at 85 localities,  there was at least one hit on casings and  there were only  20 localities at  which no hits on casings were reported. We analyzed bullets and casings separately. For each type of evidence,  4  e also emphasize that this analysis is intended merely to be suggestive due to the limita- W tions of the original operational dataset. As a record only of aggregate database additions and  “hits,” it is not as complete a resource for studying NIBIN system performance as would be  desirable. In addition, as the note for Table 5-1 suggests, the operational data spreadsheets  appear  to  be  manual  updates  rather  than  system-generated  tallies.  A  discrepancy  in  the  c   umulative count of cartridge casings from month to month led to the discovery of a significant  error in reporting by Michigan agencies (particularly the Detroit Police Department), whose  totals for 1 month were more than halved. Our analysis uses the year-end total entry and hit  counts and so should not be affected by month-to-month discrepancies, but recording errors  do apparently exist in the raw underlying data.

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 CURRENT BALLISTIC IMAGE DATABASES we  constructed  a  binary  variable:  0  indicated  no  hits,  and  1  indicated  at  least  one  hit.  We  performed  two  basic  analyses.  First,  we  used  logistic  regression to model this binary response variable as a function of the num- ber of NIBIN entries (four variables, including both evidence and test-fired  bullets  and  casings),  population  size,  and  the  two  crime  count  variables.  Second, we then restricted attention to only those localities where at least  one hit was reported (for bullets or casings) and modeled the number of hits  as the same function of potential predictors. Because the number of positive  hits  is  not  nearly  normally  distributed  and  because  the  number of  sites  reporting hits on bullets is very low (only 32 sites), we focused on modeling  the number of hits on casings and used a log transformation to improve the  distribution of the outcome variable. Taking  into  account  the  contributions  of  the  other  predictors  in  the  model, we found that the probability of a hit on cartridge casings increased  as  a  function  of  the  number  of  violent  crimes  in  the  NIBIN  site  locality  during 2003 as well as on the number of evidence casings entered in the  system. Likewise, the probability of a hit decreased with increased murder  and non-negligent manslaughters in the locality and with the total number  of bullets entered into the NIBIN system. The negative association between  the probability of a hit on casings and the number of bullets in the NIBIN  system  at  the  site  might  be  spurious  and  is  likely  attributable  to  correla- tion between the number of bullets and the number of casings, the latter of  which makes a stronger contribution to the model. Alternately, it might be  due to an unobserved underlying variable correlated with both the number  of bullets in the system and the probability of a hit on casings. However, the  probability of a hit on bullet evidence increased only as a function of the  number of bullets collected as evidence that were entered into the NIBIN  system; no other factor appears to be significantly associated to the prob- ability that a bullet match will be found.  We checked the fit of the logistic regression models by considering the  proportion of concordant pairs and by examining the chi-squared residuals  (to identify influential observations and outliers). For bullets, the percent  concordant pairs exceeded 90 percent, and for casings it was approximately  89 percent, indicating that the predictors in the model explain a significant  portion of the between-locality variability in the probability of a hit.  Looking next at the 85 localities reporting at least one hit on casings,  we fit a linear regression model to the rate of hits (computed as the num- ber of hits divided by the total number of casings in the system) in the log  scale. Predictors in the model included population at the locality, average  number of murders and non-negligent manslaughters in the locality in 2002  and 2003, total number of violent crimes in 2003 in the locality, the total  number of evidence casings in NIBIN, the total number of nonevidence (test  fire) casings in NIBIN, and the total number of bullets entered in the NIBIN 

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 BALLISTIC IMAGING system  at  the  locality.  The  log  of  the  rate  of  casing  hits  was  significantly  associated with the number of evidence casings entered into NIBIN at the  locality but was not associated with any other predictor. In particular, the  association between the log rate of hits and the number of nonevidence cas- ings in the system was negative, albeit not statistically significant.  We  examined  the  fit  of  the  linear  model  by  inspecting  residuals  and  estimating  the  degree  of  multicollinearity  among  predictors.  All  of  the  predictors  in  the  model  were  positively  correlated,  which  might  partially  explain the lack of statistically significant associations between the response  variable  and  the  predictors.  A  reasonable  (43  percent)  proportion  of  the  total variability observed in the log probability of a casing hit was explained  by the predictors in the model, and no outliers were detected when inspect- ing  the  standardized  residuals  from  the  regression.  However,  patterns  in  the standardized residuals plotted against the observed log probabilities of  hits on casings do suggest that other, potentially important predictors are  missing from the model. The most basic interpretation we draw from this analysis, despite its  limits, is the same reached by the Inspector General audit: the probabilities  of getting a hit on either bullets or casings depend vitally on the number  of entries entered into the NIBIN system at each locality. We observed the  strongest connection to be with the counts of bullets or casings entered as  evidence,  whereas  hit  probabilities  were  negatively  (but  not  significantly)  associated with the number of nonevidence (test fire) samples entered into  the  system.  This  finding  suggests  that  agencies  might  be  better  served  by  prioritizing entries so that evidence samples are entered into NIBIN most  promptly. 5–E STATE REFERENCE bALLISTIC IMAgINg DATAbASES The existing state reference ballistic image databases in New York and  Maryland  operate  using  the  same  IBIS  computer  and  microscope  image;  their networks and correlation servers are entirely distinct, however, thus  complying  with  the  current  prohibition  on  noncrime-gun  evidence  in  the  NIBIN database. 5–E.1 Maryland: MD-IbIS As part of a larger gun legislation package, the Maryland Responsible  Gun Safety Act of 2000 established a statewide database of images of car- tridge  cases  test  fired  from  every  handgun  sold,  rented,  or  transferred  by  manufacturers in the state or whose products are sold in the state, under the  premise that handguns are most frequently used in crimes. The database is  known as Maryland-IBIS (MD-IBIS), was established under the Maryland 

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 CURRENT BALLISTIC IMAGE DATABASES State  Police,  effective  September  1,  2000.  The  database  is  not  connected  to the NIBIN network and is not networked to any other law enforcement  agency  in  the  state  (though  an  unsuccessful  attempt  was  made  to  permit  entry  of  casings  by  the  Baltimore  city  police;  see  Section  5–B.1).  Casings  for entry and comparison with MD-IBIS must be taken to the state police  facility in Pikesville and processed there. In  September  2003  and  September  2004  the  Maryland  State  Police  Forensic Sciences Division (2003, 2004) issued progress reports on MD-IBIS;  the  two  reports  were  diametrically  opposite  in  terms  of  supporting  con- tinued  collection  of  image  data.  The  first  report  (Maryland  State  Police  Forensic Sciences Division, 2003:i) took an optimistic stance, arguing that  the “time to crime” window—the length of time between the sale of a gun  and its appearance as a crime gun—is roughly 3–6 years. Hence, the report  argued that the MD-IBIS was just entering this period for guns sold in 2000  and that additional investigative “hits” would be forthcoming. The analysis  drew from the example of the state’s DNA database, which “was started  in 1994 and obtained its first hit in November 1998.” However, one year  later, the Maryland State Police Forensic Sciences Division (2004:i) reversed  course, citing “the failure of the MD-IBIS to provide any meaningful hits.”  The report found that the program “has not met expectations and does not  aid in the Mission statement of the Department of State Police.” It recom- mended  that  the  data  collection  be  suspended  and  that  MD-IBIS  staff  be  transferred  to  the  DNA  database  unit.  Both  reports  also  commented  on  other problems involved with collections of data, including detected cases  where  the  cartridge  case  sample  packaged  with  a  new  firearm  did  not  in  fact correspond to that firearm; these arguments are discussed elsewhere in  this report, particularly Section 9–C.2. The 2003 report estimated the average annual cost of MD-IBIS opera- tions over its then 3-year lifetime at $460,700, which included four staff  members (technicians or firearms examiners), supplies, and service costs  for the equipment. The 2004 report, which included initial capital to pur- chase the IBIS equipment, placed the cumulative cost of the database over  4 years at $2.6 million. Based on handgun sales data prior to the enabling  law’s passage, it was projected that cartridge casings for approximately  30,000  handguns  would  be  entered  into  the  system  annually;  actual  entry had only been about one-third that amount, with 43,729 handguns  in  the  database  through  2004  (Maryland  State  Police  Forensic  Sciences  Division, 2004:2) and only 49 of 215 handgun manufacturers had sub- mitted  casings  for  inclusion  (Maryland  State  Police  Forensic  Sciences  Division, 2003:2). Both reports attribute part of this shortfall to a general  decrease in handgun sales in the state due to the full set of provisions in  the 2000 act.

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 BALLISTIC IMAGING Of 208 police queries on the MD-IBIS database, six produced matches  that were later determined to be hits. Two hits were produced in 2002 when  ATF submitted two .45 caliber Taurus semiautomatic pistols whose serial  numbers had been obliterated for comparison; matches were found to two  pistols that had been stolen from the same dealership in December 2001.  Two later hits also were found to two pistols (different manufacturers) that  had been stolen from a common dealership; investigative leads were gener- ated in a robbery and “a major burglary and assault case” (Maryland State  Police  Forensic  Sciences  Division,  2003:7).  However,  the  Maryland  State  Police Forensic Sciences Division (2004:2) raised an important criticism of  the  MD-IBIS  hits,  which  is  that  they  generally  “did  not  work  according  to the manner in which the system was designed.” The underlying goal of  an RBID is to generate an investigative lead to a point of sale without the  need for the actual crime gun to be recovered; however, the gun in question  was recovered and in police custody in five of the six confirmed hits. At the  time of its publication, the Maryland State Police Forensic Sciences Division  (2004:2) also critiqued the database’s cost-effectiveness because “none of  the ‘hits’ have been used in a criminal trial.” Following the 2004 review, the database’s future appeared uncertain.  In  March  2005,  the  Maryland  House  Judiciary  Committee  held  hearings  on a bill to repeal the law establishing MD-IBIS (Butler, 2005). However,  within a few weeks, one confirmed MD-IBIS hit that ran counter to both  Maryland  State  Police  Forensic  Sciences  Division  (2004)  criticisms—that  the few hits being produced were in cases where the gun was already recov- ered  and  that  none  were  being  used  in  criminal  proceedings—produced  tangible results. On April 1, 2005, Oxon Hill, Maryland, resident Robert  Garner was convicted of first-degree murder—in a case in which the criti- cal investigative spark was provided by an MD-IBIS hit. As Castaneda and  Snyder (2005) report: Although the [murder] weapon, a .40-caliber handgun, never was found,  county police and prosecutors connected the firearm to Garner through 10  shell casings found at the scene. . . . The casings recovered at the murder  scene matched a casing that was on file with Maryland State Police, show- ing that the weapon was purchased by Garner’s then-girlfriend (now his  wife) in a Forestville store about three weeks before the killing, according  to trial testimony.5 “That evidence was the cornerstone of our case,” said  Glenn F. Ivey, the Prince George’s [County] state’s attorney. “It was power- ful  evidence.  I  hope  this  verdict  helps  our  efforts  to  have  the  [MD-IBIS  database] continued and expanded.” 5  e note that this relatively quick 3-week span from sale to use in crime is inconsistent with  W the argument that RBIDs produce low numbers of hits due to a lengthy “time to crime.”

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9 CURRENT BALLISTIC IMAGE DATABASES This case appears to have won the system a temporary reprieve. The  then-pending bill to scrap the MD-IBIS enabling legislation was not passed  during the remainder of the 2005 legislative session; a similar bill was also  introduced during the 2006 regular session but also was not enacted. Along  with  the  proposals  to  stop  work  on  the  database,  recent  ses- sions  of  the  Maryland  legislature  have  also  raised  possible  modifications  to MD-IBIS; none have moved beyond referral to committee. In the 2006  session, HB 1369 would have waived the requirement of image entry into  MD-IBIS if a firearm’s manufacture certified that microstamping was used  on the gun’s parts to impart markings on shell casings.  5–E.2 New york: CobIS The  Combined  Ballistic  Identification  System  (CoBIS)  is  the  state  of  New  York’s  reference  ballistic  image  database  and  is  maintained  by  the  New  York  State  Police  (NYSP)  at  its  Forensic  Investigation  Center  in  Albany. The database began operation in March 2001, following the 2000  enactment of state legislation creating a “pistol and revolver ballistic iden- tification databank.”6 The law required that any manufacturer shipping or  delivering a pistol or revolver within the state include a shell casing from  a round fired through that weapon. Firearms dealers are then required to  forward the sample casing to the state police, or alternatively submit the  weapon  to  be  fired  at  a  state  police  facility  in  order  to  collect  a  sample  casing, when the gun is sold. Vendors at gun shows are dealers under this  definition, and they are expected to comply with the law.  Many manufacturers or dealers comply with the law by performing test  fires at their facilities and including the ballistic sample in an envelope. At  the time of sale, this envelope containing the sample is sent to the Albany  Forensic  Investigation  Center;  the  appropriate  permit  or  license  informa- tion is included on a slip of paper stapled to the envelope. CoBIS operators  detach  the  permit  slip  and  forward  it  to  the  appropriate  branch  of  the  NYSP; no information from the slip (e.g., name of buyer) is processed or  entered in CoBIS. The envelope is checked-in and given a bar code or ID  sticker and put into the queue for acquisition; the NYSP runs a backlog in  acquiring these exhibits. For the convenience of dealers in cases in which a ballistic sample is not  included with the firearm, the NYSP maintains regional CoBIS centers at  its six troop headquarters as well as a mobile center. Guns may be taken to  any of these regional centers for test firing (using a water tank) and recov- 6  he enacting legislation is codified as New York General Business Law, Article 26, Section  T 396-ff;  the  New  York  State  Police  subsequently  published  regulations  on  specific  database  operations as 9 NYCRR Section 493.1, Rule 18.

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0 BALLISTIC IMAGING ery of a sample cartridge. At the regional centers, casings are collected and  are checked in to the system (labeled and assigned a number), but ballistic  images are only captured at the Albany headquarters.  The  Albany  Forensic  Investigation  Center  includes  four  IBIS  Data  Acquisition  Stations,  purchased  from  FTI,  dedicated  to  entry  of  CoBIS  samples. An FTI correlation server is connected to these four stations, as  is an IBIS hub/Signature Analysis Station for use in querying the database.  The Forensic Investigation Center is also a NIBIN location; a separate IBIS  hub—in a separate room from the CoBIS DAS stations—is used for NIBIN  entries. Any law enforcement agency in the state can submit exhibits for entry  and comparison against CoBIS at no charge. At the time of the database’s  creation,  plans  suggested  an  average  of  25–50  comparison  requests  per  day, including requests against crime-scene evidence as entered in NIBIN;  actual usage was much lower than expected. In a letter to this committee  in December 2004, Zeosky (2005) wrote:  Since its inception in March 2001, cartridge cases from more than 85,000  new handguns sold in New York have been submitted to CoBIS (14,590  from  weapons  test  fired  by  the  State  Police  and  71,346  provided  by  the  manufacturers). To date there have been approximately 276 direct queries  against CoBIS, with no “hits.”  As of a 2005 visit by a subgroup of committee members to the CoBIS  center,  400  internal  NYSP  queries  had  been  made  against  the  database,  also with no hits. Agreements  have  been  made  between  the  U.S.  Department  of  Justice  and the NYSP to arrange a one-way transfer of information. Specifically,  ATF has provided the NYSP with NIBIN exhibits for other New York state  law enforcement agencies, in the form of data tapes. With FTI assistance,  these  tapes  have  been  used  to  run  batches  of  requests  on  exhibits  dating  back to CoBIS’ inception in March 2001. As of the subgroup visit, about  2,400 such queries had been run using NIBIN exhibits in CoBIS; one cold  hit  (unconfirmed  by  a  firearms  examiner)  was  found  between  a  CoBIS  exhibit and a NIBIN entry from Rochester. Just  as  NYSP  has  arranged  an  indirect,  loose  tie  between  CoBIS  and  NIBIN, so too has limited connection been made between CoBIS and New  York City’s NIBIN-independent ballistic image database. As with NIBIN, the  connection with New York City is one way and accomplished through trans- fer of tape archives. NYSP possesses a tape of all NYPD images; these remain  to be sorted and filtered, limiting the focus to post-March 2001. CoBIS and  the NYPD ballistic image database did have a previous connection; NYPD  was linked on a one-time set-up for a preliminary test of 900 queries.

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 CURRENT BALLISTIC IMAGE DATABASES New York has not attempted any kind of audit of the manufacturer- supplied samples and exhibits from guns, though this is an acknowledged  source of mix-ups. The basic logistical problem  with such a hypothetical  audit is that it would require voluntary cooperation by gun owners to turn  over  their  firearms  for  new  test  firings.  Likewise,  CoBIS  is  limited  in  its  capability to answer research question due to limitations on data collected.  CoBIS  personnel  do  not  know  how  many  guns  recovered  by  the  State  Police were actually sold in New York State, since those data go through  separate  clearinghouses.  Their  rough  impression  is  that  the  guns  tend  to  not be “imports” from other states, but rather the use of old existing guns.  Moreover,  although  information  on  the  gun  is  recorded  in  the  database,  ammunition brand is not, though some technicians will enter that informa- tion in IBIS as comments if it  is known. All that is  generally recorded  in  CoBIS is make, model, serial number, and caliber; any other information is  gathered by the permits office. In  the  2005  legislative  session,  bills  offered  in  the  New  York  State  Assembly suggested a range of legislative responses to the CoBIS database,  from  a  complete  repeal  of  the  enacting  law  (A05093)  to  multiple-phase  expansions in scope to include additional classes of firearms and ballistic  images of bullets for those weapons that do not eject shell casings (A00968,  A06462). None of these was enacted. In the 2007 session, A07477 would  expand CoBIS to include rifles and shotguns.