MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Police Department is adding another National Integrated Ballistics Information Network (NIBIN) testing machine in the next two weeks.
The machines, located inside the department's Intelligence Fusion Division, help trace bullet casings back to guns - ultimately helping to solve cases faster. Essentially, each gun makes a unique marking on a casing when it's fired. It's like a fingerprint in a sense. Police are able to use the NIBIN technology to connect the casings back to the crimes.
The testing process has become more daunting as gun violence surges, according to MPD officer David Sturma, who works in the NIBIN testing lab. He and his team work around the clock to keep up with the workload.
"The amount of casings over the last several years has gone up significantly and I think we're down probably one to two people, personnel, so keeping things covered 24/7 is more difficult," said Sturma.
Data released by MPD on Friday shows the number of NIBIN entries has grown significantly over the past few years. In 2019, there were 5,911 casings and firearms entered into Milwaukee's NIBIN system. In 2020, that number grew to 7,752, then to 11,269 in 2021. That's a 49% increase. So far, year-to-date in 2022, 4,572 casings and firearms have been entered.
"Before it used to be several incidents where you'd have one, two, three casings. We're seeing a lot more casings at the scene and in turn we're seeing a lot more guns at the scene," said Sturma about the rise in demand for testing.
He said that MPD is adding a second NIBIN testing machine in the next two weeks. He believes this will help double the entries and double the results, hopefully helping solve crimes faster.
"If you end up with 6, 8 ,10 guns at one crime scene, you're spending 3-4 hours just one that one case alone," he said while describing the challenges.
It's technology helping officers who just can't catch a break from the violence.