Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $663,135)
Broward County is the 17th most populous county in the United States and second-largest in the state of Florida. It includes 31 municipalities and a current population of over 1.9 million residents. The Firearm and Toolmark (FATM) unit of the Broward Sheriff’s Office (BSO) Regional Crime Laboratory is charged with test firing of firearms for function determination, comparing fired knowns to unknowns recovered from a crime, the recovery of obliterated serial numbers, making muzzle to target distance determinations as well as database searches utilizing the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN). The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) ATF currently is one (1) of two (2) agencies with local Crime Gun Intelligence Centers (CGIC).
The FATM strives to provide leads and hits to the CGIC in a timely fashion; however, an increase in workload has led to increased times of lead notifications. From 2018 to 2020, Broward County has observed a staggering 42% increase in violent crimes committed with a firearm. The rise in crime guns has led to increase turnaround times for results coming from the FATM unit which has resulted in a growing backlog of cases. Additionally, Risk Protection Order (RPO) law has resulted in hundreds of cases where firearms are seized and need to be examined and entered into the system as well. Many of these cases involve numerous firearms.
The end goal of the collaborative efforts using Crime Gun Intelligence centers and their methodology is to reduce the amount, and overall impact of firearms-related crimes. To stem the tide of rising violent crime, the FATM unit will work with prosecutors and investigators to quickly deliver actionable information via NIBIN and E-Trace. These programs along with the FATM being joined to the National Correlation Center will provide information to investigators within five (5) days of the crime lab receiving the evidence, which will allow for more timely and more accurate arrests as well as a higher case closure rate. The FATM will communicate with law enforcement partners, ATF, and prosecutors monthly to ensure that information is being shared effectively. In addition, grant funding will support a second Brasstrax unit for NIBIN entry, two (2) additional Forensic Technicians dedicated to firearm operability/screening and entering cases in NIBIN, and an Administrative Secretary to compile CGIC data and support the unit’s grant objectives.