Firearms / Toolmarks Unit

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Firearm identification deals with the comparison analysis of projectiles and cartridge cases found at crime scenes to submitted suspect firearms.

Firearms Identification

Firearm identification deals with the comparison analysis of projectiles and cartridge cases found at crime scenes to submitted suspect firearms. Firearms identification is possible due to imperfections present in the bearing surfaces of firearms made during the manufacturing process. These are unique to that firearm like the fingerprints or DNA of an individual. Firearm examiners can also analyze for distance determinations, operability of firearms, and serial number restorations.

Firearm Image Database

Currently the firearms and tool mark identification community has a database operating system used to image fired cartridge components called the NIBIN (National Integrated Ballistics Information Network) database. As of November 2012, there have been over 50,000 "cold hits" as a result of all the evidence entered into the database. These "hits" link cases together that were otherwise not known to be related and helps detectives solve crimes.

Tool Mark Identification

Tool mark identification determines if a tool mark left at a crime scene was produced by a particular suspect tool. Tedious microscopic comparisons are conducted of striations on a tool (bolt cutter, screwdrivers, crowbars, etc) to evidence marked by that tool (pad locks or wires, pried open doors to homes or safes, etc) recovered from the suspect.


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