Myrtle Beach police using new technology to analyze bullet shell casings, solve crimes

Published: Nov. 16, 2022 at 6:43 PM EST
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MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - A new program is helping law enforcement in the Grand Strand and Pee Dee solve crimes and generate new leads faster by sharing information with other agencies.

The Myrtle Beach Police Department introduced the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN) on Wednesday. It has only been up and running out of the Grand Strand for less than a year, but launched in the 1990s.

Since December it has helped generate more than 150 tips to help solve open investigations.

Through NIBIN, the Myrtle Beach Police Department Crime Gun Intelligence Center has been able to analyze bullet shell casings found at a crime scene to help identify what type of gun fired the bullets and who registered or owns the gun.

Most of the leads have been from the Myrtle Beach and Horry County area and some have helped solve cases with ties to our area.

Myrtle Beach Police Chief Amy Prock said it is another tool to arrest those who try to commit crimes in our community.

“As a community, we will use every resource at our disposal to hold anyone who commits crimes accountable for their actions,” said Prock.

Essentially, every gun leaves a marking on a shell casing similar to a fingerprint, each is different and unique to the gun.

During a demonstration, officers fired their weapons at a shooting range and then collected the shell casings found on the floor which are taken to the Myrtle Beach Crime Gun Intelligence Center and examined under a microscope.

They are then able to compare the information and data to NIBIN and other agencies across the country which could help them locate who registered the gun or where it was sold.

Prior to using the system, firearms examiners performed this process manually which was extremely labor intensive. Now law enforcement can search against evidence from their jurisdiction, neighboring ones, and others across the country.

“One crime scene might have video of the person and another crime scene might have the license plate of a vehicle so the investigators can then take all of this intelligence and connect it whereas before we were never able to connect all of these crime scenes together now, we’re able to connect them and solve crimes,” said ATF Special Agent Bennie Mims.

Since launching, the network has generated over 300,000 leads across the country helping solve both active investigations and cold cases.

According to the ATF, the agency has also collected more than 4.5 million pieces of ballistic evidence which are stored in this network.

“This is a big deal it is really good for law enforcement and it’s great for what we do,” said Horry County Sheriff Phillip Thompson.

While the system is housed in Myrtle Beach, all surrounding law enforcement agencies can use this technology to help solve crimes in their communities.