To understand the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN) program performance in order to determine successful NIBIN usage.
This study involved a four step process for gathering data from multiple sources. Only the survey data, step two below, are included in this release.
- Data was gathered from The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), which provided two types of National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN) usage files, including overall monthly usage and hit data for all NIBIN sites between June 2006 and July 2012 as well as data files that reported every hit produced by 19 NIBIN sites between 2007 and 2012.
- Surveys were sent to all crime labs and their firearms sections within the labs in the United States in order to assess structure, operations and opinions about NIBIN. The research team identified 459 crime labs in the U.S., which were mailed a single point of contact (SPOC) survey with instructions that the lab director complete the survey. Additionally, the research team identified 223 crime labs in the United States that were participating (or had participated in the past two years) as partner sites in ATF's ballistics imaging program NIBIN. These 223 labs were mailed a survey with instructions to route the survey to the firearms section (NIBIN and Non-NIBIN sites were given different surveys) and after four mailings of the surveys were attempted to increase response rate resulting in 111 surveys returned.
- Site visits were conducted with 10 NIBIN partner sites. These site visits entailed interviews with crime lab managers, firearms section personnel, and police personnel such as officers in special gun or violent crime units, police operations, property room, and planning/research.
- Investigators who led the investigation in 65 criminal cases involving a NIBIN hit were interviewed.
- A mailed survey of every identifiable public crime lab in the U.S. was conducted, including both National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN) partner labs and non-NIBIN labs (total=459).
- Ten NIBIN sites across the United States were chosen for site visits and interviews because of the following reasons: they were viewed as productive or innovative NIBIN sites, their volume of gun crime, geographic convenience, and whether they are run by local, regional or state agencies (a sample of each was selected). The sites visited included
Phoenix, AZ; Santa Ana, CA; Stockton, CA; Marion; Co./Indianapolis, IN; New Orleans, LA; Kansas City, MO; Onondaga Co., NY; Bowling Green, OH; Austin, TX; and Houston, TX.
- Six sites were visited for in-person interviews with criminal investigators in 65 criminal cases involving a NIBIN hit. These cases were selected mainly from recent homicides and cases involving assault with a deadly weapon.
All forensic crime labs in the United States.
United States crime lab
Site visits to ten NIBIN partner sites provided interviews with lab managers, firearms section personnel, and police personnel.
Interviews of investigators who led the investigation in 65 criminal cases involving a NIBIN hit.
Survey data from United States Crime Labs.
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) provided two types of National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN) usage files including 1) overall monthly usage and hit data for all National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN) sites between June 2006 and July 2012 and 2) data files that reported every hit produced by 19 NIBIN sites between 2007 and 2012.
coded on-site observation
The current release of this study contains only two SPSS datasets of survey data.
- NIBIN_SPOC_for_ICPSR_07.30.14.sav: This dataset is comprised of data from a survey completed by the crime lab director and contains 223 variables (n=151) that represent the survey questions. These variables include type of jurisdiction served, type of lab, accreditation, functions the lab provides, organizational structure, responsibilities of supervisor, inter-agency communication, as well as the importance that community relations has one the lab and supervisor. Specifically, questions were asked about the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network(NIBIN), including whether or not they were currently, or previously, a NIBIN site, how much the agency used NIBIN, how many resources NIBIN used, how often access to NIBIN was requested by other agencies and how burdensome those requests were, how much support ATF provides for NIBIN for their lab, and perceptions of NIBIN's usefulness.
- NIBIN_Firearms_for_ICPSR_Dec_11_2013.sav: This dataset contains 153 variables (n=111). The data represent lab responses to questions concerning the processes and outcomes of firearms sections related to the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN). Questions address issues such as the number of entries from different types of evidence, the processes for screening the types of evidence that is input into the NIBIN database, and the relative importance of different types of evidence. Questions also address inter-agency collaboration such as regular communication with prosecutors and other agencies, standard operating procedures, and recommendations for improving NIBIN's performance. Specifically, questions were asked about NIBIN including whether their firearms unit is a NIBIN site, the type of NIBIN equipment the lab has, how frequently their firearms staff inputs evidence into NIBIN and how long it takes to enter the evidence, types of employees that input evidence into NIBIN and the types of evidence each employee enters, how many different law enforcement agencies their lab inputs NIBIN evidence for, the types of evidence that is input, the frequency of evidence type, how that evidence is screened and where it comes from, frequency of staff review of the NIBIN database for correlations, the protocol used for checking the correlations, and how many employee hours are spent on NIBIN related tasks.
The survey response rates were:
- Crime Lab Manager Response Rates: 152 surveys returned (in one case two surveys were returned for one lab) out of 459 total surveys sent.
- Firearms Unit Response Rates: 111 surveys were returned out of 223 surveys sent.