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Lexington, Ky., PD Acquires State-of-the-Art Ballistics Tech

Police officials are hopeful access to the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network will streamline the investigative process around gun crimes.

by Mike Stunson, Lexington Herald-Leader / October 18, 2018

(TNS) — Technology that has helped the Lexington Police Department find suspects in the 2015 murder of Jonathan Krueger and 2017 drive-by shooting of Amya Catching is now available in-house to help solve violent crimes.

The department announced it had acquired the state-of-the-art computer and program called NIBIN (National Integrated Ballistic Information Network), which can analyze shell casings and help police solve some crimes more quickly.

Lexington investigators previously could use the program once just once a week at the Louisville Metro Police Department’s headquarters, according to Lexington police chief Lawrence Weathers. Time matters.

“We can get out there more quickly, we get that interview, get a piece of evidence we otherwise might lose if we didn’t have this type of technology,” Weathers said of a NIBIN computer now in Lexington.

NIBIN, managed by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, “compares images of cartridge casings recovered at crimes scenes and firearms recovered by law enforcement to connect shooting incidents and identify shooters,” according to a release from the Department of Justice.

“The deployments of this NIBIN equipment will help fill gaps in the intelligence and investigative networks and allow for a more efficient processing of firearm related violent crime evidence,” the release continues.

All firearms place unique marks similar to fingerprints on spent shell casings. “Only gun evidence and fired ammunition components are entered into the system,” according to ATF.

Lexington mayor Jim Gray said the city is tackling the problem of gun violence head-on.

“This ATF partnership is an important tool for our officers who work diligently to get violent criminals off the street,” he stated.

Nineteen of last year’s record 28 homicides were as a result of gunfire. Eighteen of the city’s 21 homicides this year were committed with guns.

For three years, Lexington police investigators have used Louisville’s computer to find matches in several noteworthy cases, the police department said in a release. NIBIN has helped police in the 2015 murder of University of Kentucky student Jonathan Krueger, the 2017 drive-by shooting that critically injured 12-year-old Amya Catching, the 2017 shooting death of Charles Shyrock and this year’s murder of Mikel Willis.

Malik Nelson, already in jail charged in the May shooting death of 21-year-old Christian Cubert, was charged in the earlier slaying of Willis.

Jemel Barber, then 18 and from Georgetown, was charged in August 2017 with Shryock’s July murder. He had already been charged with murder in the death of Tyrece Lionel Clark, 40. Clark died a day after Shryock. Barber was in the Scott County jail on unrelated charges when he was charged in the homicides.

Stuart Lowery, special agent in charge of the ATF Louisville Division, said the computer will allow its investigators to “connect the dots” and solve crime in a more timely manner.

“The difference between hours, days and weeks of getting this type of comparison done on ballistic evidence is huge,” he said. “We are talking about violent crime scenes, possibly homicides ... where evidence can be lost, witnesses can be lost, suspects can move around. The sooner the better in terms of making the connections between a recovered crime gun at a scene or two different shooting scenes.”

Lexington is one of 175 sites throughout the country, including Louisville and Cincinnati, to offer the NIBIN technology, Lowery said. ATF provided the system at no cost to the city, according to the police department.

©2018 the Lexington Herald-Leader (Lexington, Ky.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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