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ATF office expands in Huntsville to help solve crimes faster


The government agency linking crimes and finding leads is expanding in Huntsville.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) just opened its new training center. The workers there match around 100 gun cartridges to crimes a day. It helps local law enforcement agencies and helps solve and link crimes faster.

It all starts at the crime scene, where the explosive detection canine finds the gun cartridge.

“Get the cartridge cases recovered, get them in the system within 24 to 48 hours,” said Walter Dandridge Jr., lab chief of the National Integrated Ballistics Information Network (NIBIN).

That system shows almost four million pictures of gun cartridges. The computer narrows them down and then the workers analyze the pictures until they find a match.

“If there’s a shooting in one part of town and there’s a shooting in another part of town and then they put both of those cartridge cases from those shootings in the system it should match if they’re using the same firearm,” explained Meredith Acosta, branch chief of the National Correlation and Training Center (NNCTC).

They’ve found over 35,000 case leads in the past three years. It speeds up the case for local law enforcement agencies.

“If we waited another month from now this case that we covered today by the dog would be a cold case and investigators would be working on the most recent shooting,” Dandridge said. “So with this technology we’re able to link crimes faster.”

An ATF van was also showcased at the new office Wednesday. It’s one of only two vans in the country and brings the technology to the crime scene.

The number of workers at the new office is expected to double by October. Right now they have over 60 employees and the office is one of just over 40 in the country.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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