BELOIT, Wis. - The Beloit Police Department is working across state lines to enter ballistic information into a national database to avoid a backlog of evidence at the Wisconsin State Crime Lab in Milwaukee.
Beloit Police Chief David Zibolski said all gun and shell casing evidence is entered into the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network, and can then be compared to previous data in the system to see if there are any correlations between crimes around the country.
“Criminals do not know jurisdictional boundaries,” Zibolski said. “So if they’re proliferating bad things they often travel around and they commit these gun crimes. Now we have a really neat way of connecting those crimes, and eventually, we’ll get the gun that matches those casings, and the person holding that gun may have the answers to a lot of other crimes.”
Zibolski said the Beloit Police Department used to take its ballistic evidence to the state crime lab to be entered into the NIBIN database, but the lab has a backlog of evidence to test.
“The Milwaukee crime lab is entering ballistic evidence for the entire state of Wisconsin,” Zibolski said. “They’re really the only portal for that, so their volume is exponential to what our one agency produces.”
In order to avoid the long wait for evidence to be entered and to help cut down on the number of tests the state crime lab has to run, Beloit police started taking their ballistic evidence to Rockford to be entered into the NIBIN database. The Rockford Police Department received a special machine from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosive last fall to enter ballistic information into the national database.
“The database in Milwaukee is the same database that’s in Rockford, so it doesn’t matter where it gets entered,” Zibolski said. “We’re helping them alleviate their caseload, and we’re also getting quicker results for our agency in the Rock County area.”
Zibolski said his officers take evidence down to Rockford to be entered into the system about once a week. They’ve even taken some ballistic evidence out of the crime lab in Milwaukee and had it entered into the system in Rockford.
“Just for the sake of expediency and to help them alleviate some of their workload, if it (the evidence) was just there for that purpose, we took it back and then conveyed it to Rockford, got it entered into the system and returned to our evidence room,” Zibolski said.
“Not any kind of slight against the crime lab and their work because they do a lot of great work as well,” Zibolski said. “I think having us leverage this close relationship actually helps the state too because the lab is able to work on some of those other things.”
Zibolski said the Beloit Police Department is the only department in Wisconsin that consistently takes its ballistic evidence to Rockford to be entered into the database. He said the department still has to take all other evidence that is not guns or shell casings to the state crime lab to be processed.
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