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BPD building bullet shell casing database to connect shootings with suspects

Posted at 3:22 PM, Jan 29, 2020

BALTIMORE (WMAR) — Baltimore City Police recently announced it made 13 homicide arrests, but with more than two-thirds of its murder cases for 2019 left unsolved, they still have a long way to go.

Meanwhile, police are working on data to connect shootings to a suspect.

Baltimore City begins a new year with 24 homicides in 29 days and 41 non-fatal shootings since January 1, staggering numbers which demand city leaders take action.

"Focusing on illegal guns, those using them, but also those who are trafficking and selling them on the streets of Baltimore is very critical, especially when we know they are giving guns to people we know would be used to harm Baltimoreans," said City Council President and Mayoral candidate Brandon Scott.

Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison's Chief of Staff, Eric Melancon says the BPD has been collecting shell casings found at the scene of shootings to build a database and connect them with the shooters.

Crime scene evidence is then delivered to what police call a Crime Gun Intelligence Center (CGIC).

"Part of what the technology allows us to do is understand how the shell casings are going through a gun, it gives us a fingerprint on bullets that are used by specific guns, we can create connectivity with that and make sure that we understand the pattern by which the gun violence is occurring," said Melancon.

The CGIC brings together police, prosecutors, and the ATF to share information in a federally connected database.

Wednesday morning, Baltimore City's Board of Estimates approved a $225,000 contract for the BPD to hire Justice & Security Strategies, Inc., to make sense of that data.

"We’re bringing in a best practice model, a research partner who has experience in this from LAPD, who has the ability to make certain that we’re optimizing our approach here in Baltimore," Melancon said.

Justice & Security Strategies will start by analyzing data in the Eastern District, one of the smallest in the city but one of its most active for gun violence.

"The idea here is to identify in real time shooters and weapons owners to disrupt their activity and to make sure that we’re preventing future violence in that area, but also, to leverage the current resources for data analytics that we have there, through what’s called our 'Strategic Decision Support centers,'" said Melancon.

Melancon added, "We feel like we can build upon that model, based on the site visit that we had, it seems like the first initial step before we expand that research and that model, and approach to the entirety of the city."