Ossoff announces metro ballistics database based in College Park

U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff speaks about new public safety resources in College Park on Tuesday, January 10, 2023.   (Arvin Temkar / arvin.temkar@ajc.com)

Credit: Arvin Temkar/AJC

Credit: Arvin Temkar/AJC

U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff speaks about new public safety resources in College Park on Tuesday, January 10, 2023. (Arvin Temkar / arvin.temkar@ajc.com)

U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff on Tuesday announced a ballistics database and testing unit for the College Park Police Department that he expects will help law enforcement throughout metro Atlanta.

Ossoff, a Democrat, secured $373,000 in federal funds for College Park to join the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network System, which allows for quicker and more efficient tools when testing ballistic shells used in crimes. The city also will be able to hire a lab technician for the testing unit with the funds.

With the system, College Park will have the ability to compare data collected from shells to a database that could lead to more precise arrests and offer police throughout metro Atlanta a central hub from which to search ballistic evidence entered by multiple jurisdictions, Ossoff and College Park city officials said during a press conference Tuesday.

“This is about protecting families across metro Atlanta,” Ossoff said. “The violent crime crisis requires a continued and robust response. Departments like the College Park (Police) Department need the ability to analyze crime scene evidence and to analyze spent shell casings ... so that they can apprehend suspects.”

The announcement comes after the national surge in violent crimes that many link to the pandemic has shown few signs of abating. Homicides in Atlanta, for instance, were up for the third year in a row last year with 162 homicide investigations.

College Park Chief of Police Connie Rogers said Tuesday that gun violence has been a persistent problem, but it was on the decline prior to the pandemic.

“I know it’s hard to remember that, but that’s true,” she said, adding that gun violence is the leading cause of death of children and young adults under the age of 19.

With the ballistic database in-house, College Park will no longer need to send casings to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation for analysis, Rogers said. That could speed up an investigation by two or three months.

And because law enforcement can partner with College Park for access to compare ballistics in the system, authorities from Cobb to Gwinnett to Rockdale counties can trace crimes that have links across jurisdictions.

“It’s the same small group of people creating all the havoc in all municipalities,” Rogers said.

College Park Mayor Bianca Motley Broom said the beauty of the system is its ability to be support various communities.

“We’re all trying to get something from the same pool,” she said of funding. “Enhanced technology is basically a force multiplier. That’s why it’s so important at this time.”

Ossoff said time is of the essence in violent crime investigations and that delays in analyzing spent shell casings can make the difference in saving lives.

“I’ve got a baby daughter at home,” he said, “There is no worse nightmare for any parent in the state of Georgia than that a violent criminal could have been apprehended ... (but) instead remained at large resulting in the death or grievous injury of a child. That is happening to families in metro Atlanta.”