Appendix A
Gun Enforcement and Ballistic Imaging Technology in Boston

Anthony A. Braga*

In March 1995 Boston was one of the first major cities to receive Integrated Ballistics Identification System (IBIS) ballistic imaging technology from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF). The system was considered fully implemented when the Boston Police Department (BPD) ballistics unit made its first IBIS match in July 1995 (Braga and Pierce, 2004). Prior to the adoption of IBIS, BPD ballistics operations usually consisted of manually matched bullets and cartridge casings recovered at a crime scene to determine whether the bullets or casings were fired from a suspect’s firearm. Firearms examiners in the ballistics unit did not systematically compare bullets and casings from one scene to ballistics evidence recovered at other crime scenes to determine whether separate gun crimes were linked. When BPD firearms examiners did attempt to make such matches, known as making “cold hits,” it happened in one of


Program in Criminal Justice Policy and Management, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. This research was supported by funds from a number of sources, including the National Research Council, the National Institute of Justice, Forensic Technology WAI, Inc., and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF). The author would like to thank the members of the committee for their helpful comments and suggestions on this work. Thanks are also due to Special Agent Terrence Austin (retired), former director of the ATF National Tracing Center; Marianne Hinkle, former Assistant U.S. Attorney, District of Massachusetts; Assistant District Attorney Raffi Yessarian of the Suffolk County (MA) District Attorney’s Office; and Commissioner Kathleen O’Toole, Superintendent Paul Joyce, Deputy Superintendent Paul Fitzgerald, Deputy Superintendent William Casey, Sergeant James O’Shea, Sergeant Kathy Doherty, Sergeant Mark Vickers, Sergeant John Daley, Detective Earl Perkins, and Carl Walter of the Boston Police Department.

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