should be accompanied by a department-wide commitment to comprehensively image all ballistics evidence collected by a law enforcement agency. Without such a commitment, one of the major advantages of IBIS, the ability to routinely scan large inventories of evidence for potential links, is obviously reduced. Using the Boston experience as a model, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the District of Massachusetts has collaborated with the Massachusetts State Police to set up a process for collecting and analyzing ballistics evidence to aid gun law enforcement operations in 11 target cities for the U.S. Department of Justice Project Safe Neighborhood initiative. The Massachusetts U.S. Attorney’s Office provides the state police with $35,000 per year to support the overtime that is necessary to ensure timely ballistic imaging at the state crime laboratory. The steps of this process are as follows:
Local evidence collection: Participating police agencies must collect all evidence at gun crime scenes, which includes the collection of crime gun evidence at shots fired scenes where no injuries or fatalities are reported.
Transfer to evidence officer: Once the crime scene ballistics evidence is collected, it must be immediately transferred to the department’s evidence officer.
Transfer to Massachusetts State Police: The evidence officer must immediately submit the ballistics evidence to the state police crime laboratory.
Timely ballistics examination: The state police must immediately image the crime scene evidence and determine whether a match exists within its inventory of ballistic image evidence.
Report to investigators: The results of ballistics examination are to be communicated by state police firearms examiners to investigators from the submitting agency as soon as available.
Report to gang unit: The results of the ballistics examination are to be shared with relevant units within the police department, such as the gang unit, to see if additional information can be developed on the locations, individuals, and crime gun involved in the match.
Report to prosecutors: The information must be shared with federal and local prosecutors to coordinate priority prosecutions.
Regional or statewide analysis: Because violent criminals sometimes cross jurisdictional boundaries, ballistics evidence is to be analyzed at larger levels of aggregation beyond the city where the immediate offense occurred.
In contrast to state-level systems that image guns not involved in crime (for a critique, see Kopel and Burnett, 2003), ballistic imaging systems that are built on comprehensive imaging of all recovered gun crime evidence and