Bridgeport police, ATF partner to target gun violence

Published: Jul. 23, 2021 at 8:28 PM EDT
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BRIDGEPORT, W.Va (WDTV) - The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms mobile unit is conducting actual tests of gun ballistics for law enforcement agencies.

Police say it’s a first in Bridgeport.

The AFT’s National Integrated Ballistic Information Network is partnering with the Bridgeport Police Department to target crimes involving firearms.

“It has expanded now to their mobile units and the good thing about that is they’re getting a larger database because agencies from all over north-central West Virginia are bringing their weapons to be test fired,” said Bridgeport Police Chief John Walker.

Special agents like Matt Bassett work side-by-side with Bridgeport Police Department detectives take recovered bullets and shell casings from crime scenes in the area and match them to a gun.

“We took example casings from that firearm and then entered those casings into the brass tracks ballistics unit in the van so that they can be compared against ATF’s NIBIN database across the country,” said Bassett.

NIBIN can also work in reverse where a recovered gun could be connected to shell casings.

Bassett says ATF’s database allows detectives to work more efficiently and track down suspected gunmen before they can strike again or someone retaliates against them.

“By taking a very high-resolution 3D photo of the casing that were recovered in a crime...this allows us to rapidly identify the most violent offenders within a community.”

Chief Walker says having a partnership with federal law enforcement like the ATF is a great tool to help local police departments.

“No agency...particularly local law enforcement agency has the funding to purchase something like this and then you still have to have a lab and technology to be able to bring it to conclusion,” said the Bridgeport police chief.

Chief Walker says the mobile unit will stay in Bridgeport until Tuesday and is going to Parkersburg for it’s next stop.

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