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May 08, 2021

Philly police will collaborate with ATF to speed up shooting investigations

Ballistics van will help process shootings and potentially link related crimes, officials say

Investigations Police
Philly Police ATF Van Thom Carroll/for PhillyVoice

The ATF's National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN) van will be used assist Philadelphia police with ballistics examinations in shooting investigations.

A new partnership between the Philadelphia Police Department and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) will utilize advanced ballistics technology to rapidly process crime scenes and potentially quicken the timeline of shooting investigations.

The department unveiled the collaboration in conjunction with the U.S. Attorney's Office, providing the city a National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN) van and assistance from ATF personnel.

“The NIBIN van’s presence in Philadelphia is one very important and valuable tool in our toolbox,” said acting U.S. Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams. “It will help accelerate the testing and processing of evidence in gun violence investigations. And more evidence equals more cases that our Office can charge federally, which equals more federal convictions of violent criminals who have been using these guns to wreak havoc on the streets of this beautiful city."

Improved ballistics examination will enable investigators to link guns and casings, potentially surfacing information about related shootings in other locations. A faster process will reduce the backlog of investigations and may connect multiple shootings to a single shooter.

“The collaboration with our federal partners and the knowledge and resources that these federal agencies provide, are crucial assets to any department,” said Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw. “We will continue to work with our federal, state, and local agencies to increase the quantity of our investigatory work and ultimately, strengthen these cases with federal consequences.”

The collaboration comes after the U.S. Attorney's Office announced its "All Hands On Deck" initiative last month to address Philadelphia's gun violence epidemic, which has the city on pace to reach as many as 600 homicides this year. That initiative includes additional federal partners with the FBI, DEA, Homeland Security and other agencies.

"The ATF will remain steadfast with our local, state and federal partners to combat this uphill battle against violent crime in our communities across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” Matthew Varisco, special agent in charge of the ATF’s Philadelphia Field Division, said of the NIBIN van program. “The collaboration of investigators and prosecutors is the first step to mitigating the gun violence plaguing our communities and together, we are confident we can make strides in the right direction.”