The Myrtle Beach Police Department uses new technology to analyze shell casings and solve crimes

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – A new program is helping law enforcement agencies in Grand Strand and Pee Dee solve crimes and generate new leads faster by sharing information with other agencies.

The Myrtle Beach Police Department unveiled the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN) on Wednesday. It has only been operational at Grand Strand for less than a year, but was introduced in the 1990s.

Since December, it has helped generate more than 150 tips to solve open investigations.

Through NIBIN, the Myrtle Beach Police Department Crime Gun Intelligence Center was able to analyze shell casings found at a crime scene to determine what type of gun fired the bullets and who registered or owned the gun.

Most of the leads are from the Myrtle Beach and Horry County area, and some have helped solve cases with ties to our area.

Myrtle Beach Police Chief Amy Prock said it is another tool to arrest those attempting to commit crimes in our community.

“As a community, we will use all the resources we have to hold everyone who commits crimes accountable for their actions,” Prock said.

Essentially, every gun leaves a mark on a cartridge case that resembles a fingerprint, each one is different and unique to the gun.

During a demonstration, officers fired their guns at a shooting range and then collected shell casings found on the ground, which were taken to the Myrtle Beach Crime Gun Intelligence Center and examined under a microscope.

They are then able to compare the information and data with NIBIN and other agencies around the country, which could help them find out who registered the gun or where it was sold.

Prior to using the system, firearms examiners performed this process manually, which was extremely labor intensive. Now law enforcement can search for evidence from their jurisdiction, neighboring and others across the country.

“One crime scene might have video of the person and another crime scene might have a vehicle’s license plate number, so investigators can then take all of that information and connect it, whereas before we’ve never been able to connect all of those crime scenes together, we are.” able to connect them and solve crimes,” said ATF Special Agent Bennie Mims.

Since launch, the network has generated over 300,000 leads across the country helping to resolve both active investigations and unsolved cases.

According to ATF, the agency has also collected more than 4.5 million pieces of ballistic evidence stored on this network.

“It’s a big deal, it’s really good for law enforcement and great for what we do,” said Horry County Sheriff Phillip Thompson.

While the system is housed in Myrtle Beach, all surrounding law enforcement agencies can use this technology to solve crimes in their communities.

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