JSO Shows Off New-To-City Technology For Solving Gun Crimes

Dec 18, 2017

The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office showed off a new-to-the-city technology for helping to solve gun crimes. The Jacksonville City Council approved the purchase of a $250,000 Integrated Ballistics Identification System in March. Now it’s up and running.

State Attorney Melissa Nelson (left) along with Sheriff Mike Williams and Mayor Lenny Curry (right) and others show off Jacksonville's new IBIS.
Credit Lindsey Kilbride / WJCT News

The system, called IBIS for short, examines the marks guns leave on bullet casings, to match them to guns in a national database. Each spent cartridge has a unique imprint from a gun’s firing pin.

On Monday, Firearms lab manager Peter Lardizabal demonstrated a casing examination with IBIS, by first looking at multiple bullets under a comparison microscope, which could be from the same scene, then scanning them into the national database called the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network. Lardizabal said JSO is on the lookout for a full-time examiner.

“It takes a lot of training and experience to be able to evaluate these images,” Lardizabal said. “Typical training time for an examiner is about two years and that’s dedicated 40 hours a week, and that gets them to the level to where they’re fundamentally a rookie doing this type of work.”

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement already uses the technology, and local law enforcement agencies send their casings to the state office for analysis, with wait periods of months. “Sometimes an analysis being that old is not going to help us,” Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams said.

Firearms lab manager Peter Lardizabal examines casings with a comparison microscope.
Credit Lindsey Kilbride / WJCT News

Now that Jacksonville has its own IBIS, an examination can take as little as 24 hours.

“We’re going to be probably about one of 10 cities in the country that have this ability in our community to focus on just our community,” Williams said.

Williams said this will let JSO know if two shootings are linked with the same gun. Also confiscated guns, like those from felons, will be test shot and also entered into the database.

Williams said JSO has wanted this system for about 15 years.

Lindsey Kilbride can be reached at lkilbride@wjct.org, 904-358-6359 or on Twitter at @lindskilbride.