Champaign Police to get cutting-edge ballistics technology

The Champaign Police Department is getting cutting-edge technology that will help investigators connect the dots when it comes to gun-related crimes. (WCCU)

The Champaign Police Department is getting cutting-edge technology that will help investigators connect the dots when it comes to gun-related crimes.

“For Champaign to develop the regional NIBIN site is a big deal,” Lt. Tom Petrilli of the Champaign Police Department, said. “It’ll be a big push as far as using that data and technology component of the criminal investigation.”

NIBIN is technology developed by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to document bullets and shell casings left behind from gun-related crimes.

The machine works by taking microscopic pictures of the markings a gun leaves behind when its fired.

The Champaign City Council approved the proposal at Tuesday night’s meeting, a $208,200 purchase funded by a grant from the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority.

At the meeting, many council members were excited about this purchase, but also expressed concerns about the logistics of splitting the cost when it comes to the warranty and protection plan, as well as personnel costs.

As part of an intergovernmental agreement, Champaign Police, Urbana Police, U of I Police and the Champaign County Sheriff’s Office will split the warranty and protection plan cost, with the City of Champaign paying $65,358 up front, and is to be reimbursed over time.

For police, acquiring NIBIN technology will allow investigators to quickly connect shooting incidents and identify those responsible. In 2017, the NIBIN led to more than 53,000 leads across the country.

Investigators also say that although NIBIN will be an amazing tool in helping close ongoing and future investigations, it’s still the information brought forward by the community that matters most.

“So while most investigations are data and technology driven, it’s still the information that we get from people that are really solving the crimes,” Lt. Petrilli said.

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