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U.S. Department of Justice
Office of Community Oriented Policing Services
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) has brought innovation and evidence-based solutions to combating gun crime through Crime Gun Intelligence (CGI). As the ATF reframed each of its 25 Field Division–based intelligence units to Crime Gun Intelligence Centers (CGIC) and expanded this concept to law enforcement nationwide, CGI has provided an investigative advantage through timelyleads that connect shooting events, the historical perspective of a gun used in the commission of one or more crimes, and cross-jurisdictional referencing to aid in the identification and activities of a suspected shooter(s). CGI is actionable, synthesized firearm information that ATF can provide to any law enforcement entity, regardless of size of the agency or volume of violent crime in collaboratively addressing the overall mission of reducing gun violence.
When one speaks of CGI, the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN) is often mentioned at the same time. NIBIN automatically compares digital images of spent cartridge casings from shooting scenes or recovered crime guns to all other images previously entered into the database. This automatic process returns potential matches by using the markings impressed on a cartridge case during firing. Correlation Review Specialists, often trained at the ATF NIBIN National Correlation and Training Center (NNCTC) in Huntsville, Alabama, perform comparisons to determine matches, called NIBIN Leads. While these matches are presumptive, the rate of NIBIN Leads confirmed by scientific methods is greater than 98 percent and is most often in the hands of investigators within 48 hours.
Despite the prodigious impact NIBIN has had on gun crime investigations, it is only a part of the body of CGI. Firearms tracing conducted by ATF’s National Tracing Center (NTC), gunshot detection technology, locally based criminal intelligence relating to firearm violence, and other sources all constitute information that, when layered and analyzed effectively, can provide a significant advantage to the investigation and prosecution of firearm crime.
ATF continues to focus the success of CGI and CGICs through partnership; the stronger the overall team, the stronger its potential. While firearms tracing has for many decades exposed the cross-jurisdictional nature of crime guns, NIBIN is also revealing that the unlawful use of firearms in shootings can reach across jurisdictions. The felon-in-possession arrest made by one department may very well involve the perpetrator of a double homicide in a neighboring department, with the crime gun purchased in yet a third jurisdiction. NIBIN and firearm tracing often highlight this very scenario, which reinforces the importance of partnerships that leverage shared resources towards shared problems.
ATF is committed to making the CGI concept available to law enforcement agencies nationwide. ATF has heavily invested into NIBIN and the firearms tracing infrastructure that are the backbone of CGI. In 2020, the NNCTC conducted 167,532 correlation reviews generating 47,876 leads on behalf of 79 participating agencies. This continued investment is not only in support of ATF’s own mission responsibilities but also and equally a part of dedication to its state, local, and tribal partnerships in the continued fight against violent gun crime.
For additional information on CGI, please visit the ATF website and reach out to your local ATF Field Division Office or ATF’s Firearms Operations Division.
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