Stop cutting off the ends of the ham: An Innovative Strategy for Managing Firearm Related Casework

Stop cutting off the ends of the ham: An Innovative Strategy for Managing Firearm Related Casework
Duration: 60 Minutes
Module 1 Resources
Recorded on: 2018-10-25
Unit 1 Slide Deck: An Innovative Strategy for Managing Firearm Investigations
Unit 2 Recording: An Innovative Strategy for Managing Firearm Investigations
Unit 3 Workbook: Innovative Strategy for Managing Firearm Related Casework

Investigations and crime fighting are being portrayed in movies and TV shows as if it’s instantaneous, taking only 24 hours to process evidence, analyze lab findings, and make an arrest. Imagine the dismay of people when they realize that in reality, they’ll need to wait longer – days, weeks, months, even years. Law enforcement agencies, however, are doing everything within their power to make the processes more efficient. While it may still be a long way before the coveted 24 hour turnaround time, the efforts are still plenty to ensure that justice is served promptly.

One of the areas that have seen rapid progress in the last few years is the field of forensics and ballistic analysis. Through IBIS and NIBIN, US law enforcement agencies are able to better extrapolate the link between separate shootings and gun crime cases. Today’s guests will talk about managing firearm-related casework by maximizing NIBIN. First is Ron Nichols, from the Nichols Forensic Science Consulting. He is a widely renowned figure in the field of firearm and ballistic analysis having written various publications and testifying in criminal cases involving firearm and toolmark evidence. Meanwhile, Darryl Barr has 26 years’ worth of experience in the field. He is currently managing the Calgary Police Service’s Forensic Firearms and Toolmark Laboratory.

Ron will review the field of forensics and its innovations and changes. Daryll will then discuss the Calgary model where the field is enhanced through CIBIN – Canada’s version of NIBIN. Some of the topics they covered on the course include:

  • A history of firearm and toolmark examining, and how today’s forensic technology is still stuck to practices established way back in the 1950s.
  • Transformational forensics that entails collaboration from key players and takes a three-pronged approach of developing technology, processes, and the people to become successful.
    • Realizing the potential of the NIBIN technology to recognize links and leads.
    • Revising the processes towards a practice that allows triaging of evidence.
    • Leveraging the staff’s potential to where trained technicians can do most of the groundwork and firearms examiners focus on analysis and confirmation.
  • The Calgary model that shows how transformational forensics is applied in real-time policing.
    • The goals that the Calgary model wants to accomplish and the methods they employ to achieve these.
    • The Calgary Police Service Firearms Investigation Protocol which incorporated the people, process and technology elements.
    • A look into their workflow that illustrates the prioritization of evidence and cases.
    • The roles and responsibilities of the law enforcement staff involved in the initiative.
    • The results of the implementation of the Investigation Protocol which greatly improved IBIS hits, created efficiency in the workflow, engaged lab personnel and investigators, and provided strategic intelligence for crime analysts.
    • Lessons learned from the model, areas for improvement, and options available for other agencies interested in employing the same or adopting some of the elements in the Calgary Police Service model.
  • Ron and Darryl answered the audience’s queries on:
    • The impact of the program on Calgary’s number of shootings and firearms-related cases
    • CIBIN and NIBIN integration
    • Which element of transformational forensics to deal with first
    • A firearm examiner’s workload
    • DNA swabbing from firearms and shell casings
Additional Resources
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