New technology could help Gwinnett officers solve gun-related crimes

The Gwinnett Police Department will soon be able to connect to a national database to match shell casings, which could lead to solving gun-related crimes. (Courtesy Gwinnett County)

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The Gwinnett Police Department will soon be able to connect to a national database to match shell casings, which could lead to solving gun-related crimes. (Courtesy Gwinnett County)

Gwinnett County investigators will be able to access a national database from their own headquarters, which could help officers solve gun-related crimes.

Board of Commissioners approved on July 20 the purchasing of technology that allows officers to use 3D imaging to compare firearm shell casings from guns seized at crime scenes to those stored in a national database.

Each firearm leaves a unique shell casing when fired, said officer Hideshi Valle. The technology can help law enforcement find links between gun-related crimes committed in Gwinnett County and nationwide, she said.

“It’ll be linked if that weapon has been fired somewhere else,” Valle said. “We’ve had situations where (weapons were fired) in New Orleans, Virginia and New York. If it’s retrieved, the weapon would have additional information of who had it, how it was used (and) when it was used.”

The database is managed by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which already inputs some shell casings into the database for Gwinnett officers. Now, officers will be able to upload shell casing images for every gun they’ve taken in as evidence.

“Let’s say two or three years from now something does happen and it relates to a weapon that we already have — it’s additional information and an investigative tool that will definitely help us,” Valle said.

The in-house technology will shorten the turnaround time for matching shell casings from approximately two weeks to only 30 minutes. It will cost the county about $207,000 for installation, according to county documents. Annual upkeep is estimated at about $25,000.

“The acquisition of this technology will produce important investigative leads that will aid the department in apprehending the perpetrators of violent crime,” said Deputy Chief James McClure in a press release. “There is no doubt this new technology will play a vital role in helping the agency safeguard our community.”