Jacksonville Opens Firearm Forensics Center

May 21, 2019

Jacksonville is opening a firearm forensics center that will help officers generate leads in cases involving violent crime.

Related: City Of Jacksonville Gets permit For ‘Crime Gun Intelligence Center’

City leaders were joined by U.S. Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms (ATF) Acting Director Regina Lombardo Tuesday at a ribbon cutting at the Jacksonville State Attorney’s Office, where the Crime Gun Intelligence Center (CGIC) will be housed.

The center’s capabilities include ShotSpotter, which alerts police within minutes of gun fire and the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network, a federal database for investigators to link shell casings to firearms.

State Attorney Melissa Nelson said the goal of the CGIC is not only to solve crimes, but to disrupt the shooting cycles, which tend to be caused by “a small number of people who continue to pull the trigger.”

The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office has already been using that technology, but the Crime Gun Intelligence Center will coordinate the efforts of the police, prosecutors, and federal law enforcement. “And so when we’re able to link the different shootings, and gather that evidence and intelligence, it enables law enforcement to act more quickly and disrupt and then prevent crime,” said Nelson.

The center will employ 26 JSO officers and 3 ATF agents who will work closely with state attorney investigators.

Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams said he expects to see more crimes solved, but it’s hard to tell by how much.

“Are you going to be 30% more successful? 50% more successful? I don’t know what that number is going to be. I can tell you we will have a lot more,” he said. 

Williams pointed to multiple shootings his office was recently able to solve by using the technology to link suspects to the crime scene and said law enforcement would likely not have known about them without Shotspotter.  

Mayor Lenny Curry agrees. “Without these technologies, that would not have happened and we hear the sheriff say that those cases would likely still be unsolved, maybe even have gone cold,” Curry said.

The Crime Gun Center is one of several incentives aimed at curbing violent crime in Jacksonville, which has risen over the past couple of years.

Williams said he hopes the technologies will not only solve crimes, but also deter shootings.

“There’s no magic solution to this. It’s about using the right technology, having the right number of people, obviously good relationships in the community. All those things work together to provide some consistent success across the board,” said Williams.

The city allocated $1 million in 2017 to fund the center.

Contact Abukar Adan at 904-358-6319, aadan@wjct.org or on Twitter at @abukaradan17