The Arlington Police Department launched a pilot program over the summer that aims to combat rising gun violence and help solve crimes in North Texas using ballistic data from across the country.
The NIBIN Engagement Team (NET), a nine-person pilot group that launched in July, is tasked solely with analyzing data from the federal National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN) — an interstate automated ballistic imaging network — in order to find possible connections between cases and events, generate leads and solve cases.
Under the NIBIN program, established by the ATF in 1997, local law enforcement agencies can enter cartridge casing evidence and other ballistic information into the NIBIN. The images are correlated against the database, allowing agencies to trace connections between the 4.5 million pieces of ballistic evidence found at crime scenes within their jurisdiction, adjacent ones or others across the country. The ATF reports that the database has assisted law enforcement in producing more than 300,000 leads since its creation.
Arlington Deputy Police Chief Kyle Dishko said the team does not get assigned cases; it acts as an investigative unit.
“They provide data on multiple shooting locations where people have been at multiple shootings. That’s really an important event for us, as to determine who’s at all these crime scenes,” Dishko said.
Arlington Police Chief Al Jones said that the program was created after witnessing rising crime in the city.
“Arlington, like other cities, continues to experience an increase in gun violence,” Jones said in a statement. “Although the crime in Arlington citywide is down, so is our homicides … as of September, but our overall violence is up 9%.”
The pilot program ends in January, after which time police will decide whether to make the NET team a permanent addition to the department.