ANDERSON, S.C. (WSPA)–Law enforcement agencies in the Upstate are getting the chance to use top notch technology to solve crimes. The mobile ballistics testing unit has made it’s way to Anderson temporarily. It’s one of just two units of its kind in the whole country.
On the outside it looks like your average van, but take a look inside and there’s an entire forensic laboratory that analyzes bullet casings.
Everytime a gun is fired a unique marking is left on the bullet casing.
“Every time you shoot a different pistol, that it has its own marks,” said Anderson police chief Jim Stewart.
He says this mobile ballistics testing unit is already befitting the community.
“We just need that one tip to help solve a crime,” said Stewart.
It’s called the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network, or NIBIN.
The technology scans a spent bullet casing and records the unique markings.
“This technology in particular helps us to really be a better partner in that fight against violent crime,” said ATF Special Agent in Charge Brian Mein.
He says that information is then put in a nationwide database.
“We tend to investigate people and that’s how we would find guns and really we’re working it in the other direction here,” said Mein.
If there’s a matching shell casing from another crime it can create a lead.
“Those shell casings provide very valuable leads to us and absent that information we may not be able to connect these shootings,” said Mein.
In the short time the unit has been in Anderson County, it’s already working.
Sherrif Chad McBride says one case is using evidence generated by NIBIN.
“And it was definitely supporting evidence that was needed to take it to the next level,” said McBride.
Right now, the only stationary NIBIN units in South Carolina are in Columbia and Charleston, leaving a gap here in the upstate.
“To have this van here, it’s going to expedite the ability to turn these correlations around,” said Lance Crick, Acting U.S. District Attorney in South Carolina.
Currently, agencies have to drive evidence to one of the stationary units.
“At a minimum you’re looking at at least a week until investigators can get some valuable information,” said Mein.
With the mobile unit, they can turn that information around in 48 hours.
ATF estimates NIBIN units across the country will analyze half a million casings in 2020. That could generate up to 100,000 leads.
After the van finishes in Anderson County it will head to do the same work in Myrtle Beach.