Police in Minneapolis unravel crime scene tape in 2020, a year marked by a stark rise in homicides. Community violence intervention programs offer a data-backed alternative to policing. Brandon Bell/Getty Images
In an effort to curb gun violence, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced a new Central Ohio Crime Gun Intelligence Center (CGIC) Tuesday.
CGIC launched this summer and is housed within the Ohio Department of Public Safety. It operates in partnership with Columbus Division of Police, Ohio State Highway Patrol, Ohio Narcotics Intelligence Center, Ohio Attorney General’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation and U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF).
“They’re sharing intelligence, they’re sharing leads, they’re sharing evidence analysis, all in real time to identify shooters,” DeWine said Tuesday during a press conference. “This concept, which was originally developed by the ATF, was law enforcement from various jurisdictions under one roof with one mission to identify those responsible for gun violence and send them to prison so they can’t hurt anyone else.”
A big part of CGIC is the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN), which AFT came up with to help law enforcement connect gun crimes using markings on shell casings. CGIC will have two NIBINs and will “allow investigators to essentially map out a gun’s criminal history — when it’s been fired and where,” DeWine said.
The Central Ohio CGIC is the second full-scale crime gun intelligence center in Ohio, joining the center operated by the Cincinnati Police Department that started in 2021.
Columbus has had 114 homicides so far this year and 90% have involved the use of a firearm, said Columbus Mayor Andrew J. Ginther. 2021 was the city’s deadliest year on record with 205 homicides.
“(Central Ohio CGIC) is ultimately about accountability — connecting the guns being used to kill, maim and commit crimes with the individual who wield or peddle them in the first place,” Ginther said.
Columbus police collected more than 3,300 firearms last year and nearly 200 of them were assault-style weapons, he said. CPD has recovered more than 2,500 firearms so far this year, he said.
“The prevalence of guns on our streets is completely and totally unacceptable,” Ginther said. “We all must do more to change the status quo.”
NIBIN makes 3D scans of cartridge cases and compares them to images already in the database. When there is a match, a lead is created and a correlation report goes out. There are 5.7 million pieces of ballistic evidence stored in NIBIN, according to ATF.
“It tells us when one crime scene is connected to another,” said Daryl McCormick, special agent in charge of ATF’s Columbus Field Division. “Tracing reveals the identity of the first person to purchase the firearm.”
The two new NIBIN machines given to the Central Ohio CGIC were funded by DeWine’s Ohio Ballistics Testing Initiative. $10.5 million was given to the Ohio Attorney General’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation and the OSHP to increase Ohio’s NIBIN units from seven to 16.
CGIC started working on cases this summer and DeWine highlighted some examples of what NIBIN has been able to discover so far, including connecting a gun to shots fired into a Columbus home in June.
Investigators recovered the shell casings and NIBIN revealed the gun was used for homicides in May 2022 and January 2022. It was used also used twice for felonious assault, in August 2021 and December 2020.
DeWine signed a bill into law last year that nixed all training, background check and permitting requirements to carry a concealed weapon.
A law went into effect in 2021 that no longer requires people to retreat before they can justifiably hurt or kill someone with a gun in self-defense.
State Rep. Al Cutrona, R-Canfield, introduced a bill earlier this year that would exempt guns and ammunition from sales tax in Ohio.
State Reps. Jessica Miranda, D-Forest Park, and Darnell T. Brewer, D-Cleveland, introduced a bill in May that would prohibit a person from not properly securing a firearm with the goal of eliminating shootings involving minors by 2032.
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