Feds Send High-Tech Van to Chicago to Combat Gun Violence

The Chicago Police Department unveiled a new tool to target the city’s gun violence on Monday.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Senator Dick Durbin were on hand at CPD’s 9th District station to announce a partnership with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to bring the ATF’s new ballistic testing van to the city.

The van is a state-of-the-art mobile forensic lab that’s designed to assist law enforcement in analyzing bullet casings and other ballistic evidence instantly.

Officers can drive the van directly to crime scenes and analyze shell casings and weapons on the spot, getting immediate results linked to the ATF’s National Integration Ballistic Information Network.

The NIBIN is an interstate database that will allow authorities to gather information on suspects and develop leads within hours instead of days – helping them to ultimately track down and arrest gun offenders more quickly in the early, critical stages of an investigation.

“That shell casing is then entered into this national information network that ATF maintains and compared against like images to see if there’s a connection with other crimes,” ATF spokesman David Coulson said. “It’s kind of connecting the dots and it provides, hopefully what the goal is, actionable intelligence to investigators.”

“Gun violence involves the most primal instincts in humankind,” Durbin added. “We are fighting those primal instincts with high technology when we bring in a NIBIN van.”

The NIBIN van arrived in Chicago from Baltimore on June 1 and will stay in the city through the end of July as the ATF runs its pilot program.

There is a possibility that it could stay longer in Chicago depending on the success of the program.

The van was one of three new law enforcement initiatives announced Monday.

In the morning, Emanuel and Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson were at the DuSable Museum of African American History as the first group of police recruits to participate in cultural awareness training began the program, designed to build better trust between officers and the communities they protect.

Later in the afternoon, CPD planned to welcome 86 new recruits to the Academy, the six class to join this year as Emanuel works toward his goal of growing the department by 1,000 officers.

“Our strategy is straightforward. Putting more police on the street and getting kids, guns and gangs off the street,” Emanuel said.

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