Charlotte-Mecklenburg police are turning to a useful technology to connect the dots between crime scenes and bring criminals to justice, detailed in a report by WCNC News.
It’s been a busy year for Charlotte police as the city saw 123 homicides in 2020, according to a recent press briefing. The crime rate surpassed the city’s previous all-time-high of 122 back in 1993. To battle the rise of violent crime, CMPD officials have turned to the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN) program, which can help track guns and connect the dots between shootings and cases.
According to the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), NIBIN is a “national database of digital images of spent bullets and cartridge cases that were found at crime scenes.” The program is managed by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), which provides the equipment to crime labs.
According to the NIJ, although NIBIN provides enormous potential for solving gun-related crimes, many police departments are not currently taking full advantage of the technology.
CMPD said that one of their objectives was to improve their use of NIBIN and add more resources to their crime lab. Expanding the program will allow lab staff to not only enter data from shell casings found at crime scenes, but also other firearms as well.
So far, the technology is proving to be useful. CMPD officials say that NIBIN has led to several key arrests and discoveries, and has generated 575 investigative leads. Of note, the technology contributed to the arrest of violent offender Steven Staples, whose killing spree took 5 lives, and made a connection between a deadly Beatties Ford Road shooting that killed four with other crimes in the area.
According to the WCNC report, CMD officials explained that the crime increase has to be understood in the context of an overall increase in the city’s population, which has nearly doubled in size since 1993. However, this doesn’t mean that crime isn’t on the rise, and officials believe that it’s likely that a small number of individuals are responsible for the majority of the crimes.