PIX11 gets exclusive access to ATF’s crime-solving technology

A microscopic technology is being used more and more by local, state and federal law enforcement agencies across the country.

It’s called the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network, or NIBIN.

“It’s a database that links shell casings from different crime scenes by the individual fingerprint that’s left on that casing,” said Christopher Amon, deputy chief of firearms operations division at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

He oversees the system.

There are 180 NIBIN systems across the country. Two of them are mobile crime labs that go around the country for big takedowns.

PIX11 News was given exclusive access to one that was brought to New York City for a recent bust in Brooklyn.

“As the ballistics come in we have investigators, ATF agents and NYPD detectives work together to layer the intelligence to see where the guns came from,” said Ashan Benedict, the special agent in charge for ATF in NYC.

Once guns and ammunition are recovered from a shooting scene, they're sent to a NIBIN crime lab for testing within 48 hours.

“It takes images of microscopic markings on the head of firearm cartridge case,” said Walter Dandridge Jr., forensic firearms and toolmark examiner for the federal agency.

It takes about two hours to see if there’s a match.

According to ATF records, in 2017, police agencies across in New York entered 11,873 cartridge cases into the NIBIN system which resulted in 1,019 leads for investigators.

“In the old days there were shootings taking place across the city that we didn’t realize were used by one shooter. We didn’t know. Now we do,” Benedict said.