to include more than one to maximize the chances of finding connections to other incidents that might involve the same gun. Likewise, in test firing a weapon in police custody, all manner of variations are possible, and we do not suggest that agencies try to anticipate every possible shooting condition. What we do suggest is that more than one exhibit be put into NIBIN, ideally representing some span of ammunition makes.
Recommendation 6.6: The NIBIN program should consider a protocol, to be recommended to partner sites, for the entry of more than one exhibit from the same crime scene or test firing when more than one is available. For crime scene evidence, more than one exhibit—but not necessarily all of them—should be entered, rather than having examiners or technicians select only the “best” exemplar. For test-fired weapons, it is particularly important to consider entering additional exhibit(s) using different ammunition brands.
To be truly effective, this recommendation necessarily incurs a basic technical enhancement to the current IBIS platform; see Recommendation 6.10; some of the usability enhancements suggested in Recommendation 6.13 also complement the notion of multiple exemplars.
The final operational enhancement we suggest is an echoing of Recommendation 1 in the Inspector General audit of NIBIN (U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Inspector General, 2005). The NIBIN program does have procedures in place for monitoring low-usage sites and sending warning messages. As ATF commented in its reply to a draft of the audit report, “consideration must be given to the availability of IBIS technology to law enforcement agencies that reside in regions that historically have low usage based on the amount of firearms crimes” (U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Inspector General, 2005:131). That is, ATF is aware that a strict quota of evidence entries per month is an unfair benchmark, since agencies vary in the number of gun crimes (and hence the number of possible NIBIN entries) they encounter. That said, systemic low usage should be grounds for reallocation of scarce program resources to other agencies who can be more effective partners in the system.
Recommendation 6.7: Priority for dispensing NIBIN system technology should be given to high-input environments. This entails adding machines (and input capacity) to sites that process large volumes of evidence and especially to sites that lack their own NIBIN installations but that routinely and regularly submit evidence to regional NIBIN