Webinar presenter Ray Guidetti answered a number of your questions after his presentation, Building a Crime Gun Intelligence Capability. Here are just a few of his responses.
Audience Question: Can you talk about collecting data and providing appropriate follow-up on shots fired incidents? It seems many agencies do a poor job of analysis. And what are your thoughts?
Ray Guidetti: So, what I would ask, is there a capacity within a real-time crime center or a fusion center that actually is collecting that data? Is it acoustic gunfire detection data? That shooting information or data can come in different formats. And depending on what the format is how best they can be analyzed. Obviously, more is better. We know that gunfire detection is an awesome tool. They’d be able to pick up on gunfire shots fired itself, but to be able to piggyback that off and be supplemented against information that was maybe specific to the responding front line officers, what information they may have picked up. So, the more information, the better. But without knowing exactly what data set she’s talking about, it’s hard to describe, sort of like what angle she may want to proceed.
Audience Question: What key performance metrics do you suggest be tracked to help assess CGICs?
Ray Guidetti: Key Performance Metrics for CGICs. So, what we described early on in this presentation was, let’s look, first at what is the processing time for ballistic evidence that’s recovered through NIBIN. And that’s the first step, okay? That’s a metric there. But then as that program grows out, and as capabilities become much more mature, I think this was laid out in the presentation. That’s not going to be enough. So, what we wanted then to do, is to be able to develop metrics. And it’s going to be customized to a particular jurisdiction on how it relates to how these, we’ll reference them as NIBIN leads, how are they actioned out? And what is the metrics that is acceptable to that jurisdiction in terms of how those NIBIN leads are actioned out? And then, once that metric is developed, we then want to move to a third stage on what does this look like in terms of turnaround on a NIBIN lead investigation or shooting investigation? What does that metric look like in terms of not only addressing the shooting hit investigation but what does it look like to be closed or pending? What do those metrics look like? And again, this has to be customized to a particular jurisdiction, or CGICS because of capabilities, personal resources, technology that might be available. The bottom line is, and this is always difficult in law enforcement, is that we don’t always just want to focus on the output, and it’s very easy for us in law enforcement to do that. The old adage is like don’t focus on arrests. Let’s focus on what those outcomes are, in terms of what’s happening in the criminal environment. In terms of suppressing crime. The same holds true as it relates to developing a crime gun intelligence capability. On the front end, we wanted to be able to focus on those outputs, because we’re just starting, and the outputs being what’s happening with processing NIBIN leads. Secondly, what does it look like for us, actually, in our cases? But what we all want to strive for is the ends here, in terms of what are we doing to the criminal environment? How are we suppressing crime? How are we dropping crime? How are we able to focus our attention on a hot spot area and be able to address that, whether we’re going to address it through prevention, interdiction, or arrest.
Audience Question: Did your broader gun intelligence group have an SOP manual for handling within the organization?
Ray Guidetti: So, what was interesting about the entity that I described in New Jersey, it was at the state level. So, there was a collective of different entities, not only from a ballistics processing but also investigatively. So, I could speak for certainly, the New Jersey State Police in their ballistic capability. Yes, there were not only existing protocols on processing but then protocols and policies as it relates to the processing of ballistic evidence. Now, very fortunate in New Jersey where all of this was mapped back to our law, state legislation that speaks to processing crime guns, not only from a NIBIN side of the house, but also from the Trace side of the house, and then also following up on these ballistic leads. But that, as we like to describe, it’s the policies that are going to sustain your program into the future. Of course, we always need leaders to be able to not only act out those policies but then follow up on that.
Audience Question: Can you further explain the feedback loop and what that looks like in an already established crime gun intelligence program?
Ray Guidetti: The feedback loop in an already established crime gun intelligence program. Again, what I have found is, depending on the jurisdiction, depending on the agencies that are heading up those CGICs. You have formalized GCICS that are represented by the ATF. You have CGICs lower case lettering where you have folks in real-time crime centers and fusion centers that are processing information turning into actionable intelligence. That feedback loop has to come in a variety of formats. Not only does it have to come in the format as it relates to when information is going out. What is actually coming back to the GCICS to understand how the field is processing or did they receive that information. But it also has to take place in other formats as well. I was very fortunate in New Jersey to see this take shape. And now what they’re doing is exceptional where they have collectives of law enforcement entities, that represent those food groups that were described in the presentation that come together, whether it’s at a municipal level, regional level, or the state level. And in New Jersey, there were names for these types of information-sharing platforms where people physically are in the same room, face-to-face, exchanging information. You have folks briefing out, analysts, investigators briefing out on information developed through a crime gun intelligence program and they’re speaking directly to those decision-makers in the field or commanders, and they’re having an exchange. That exchange happening in real-time is providing that feedback loop. Now, that’s at certainly the operational level. What is always important, in any program, regardless of its crime gun intelligence or other law enforcement crime reduction programs, is a formal feedback loop where folks can get together, maybe on a quarterly basis, maybe a semi-annual basis, actually bring people together, maybe share it in a Delphi method to bring people together, and exchange information about what’s going well and what needs to be looked at. That feedback level. So, hopefully, I described it, where you’re developing feedback mechanisms that are not only at the tactical level, and that was what I said earlier, where information is going out, making sure people are receiving it. Secondly, at the operational level, and having that face-to-face discussion, where you have your analysts being able to brief directly to decision-makers and let decision-makers provide feedback directly. And then, thirdly, is at the strategic level, bringing folks in to assess the program at large as a whole, and be able to from that feedback, make the necessary changes. There’s no cookie-cutter solution to this. There’s no template to this. I really wish there was but because of the way law enforcement is structured within the United States. It’d be difficult to do that. Each of these entities, this crime gun intelligence capabilities whether it’s at the local level, the regional level, or at the state level are going to be slightly different based on resources, technology, and a host of other things that may find its way into this jurisdiction. And that may very well be law and policy.
Audience Question: Within the Caribbean, we have NIBIN situated in Barbados. The issue that we have is that we have to send samples to that country. Sometimes all of the ballistic information is not sent to Barbados because the accused may plead guilty. Should we send the samples even if there was a conviction?
Ray Guidetti: I don’t necessarily understand that question Jim. Maybe you can lean in on that since you’ve worked with the federal government on this.
Jim Needles: Sure, right. Yes, definitely. That information should be sent and should be entered into the system. You don’t know what you might find that it may connect to. It may connect to crimes unknown to you, and unknown to the investigators or prosecutors from the particular crime you’re talking about. So, I would say absolutely that information should be collected and entered into the system.
Audience Question: What information systems did you use in New Jersey to collect the information and disseminate it to the various partners?
Ray Guidetti: New Jersey was a unique animal in the sense that while this was going on, in terms of the building out of a crime gun intelligence program, and what I’d like to make sure I emphasize is that this dynamic. There’s an evolution to what is happening in New Jersey and what I’ve seen happening and other successful entities across the country. It’s not that you build it, and it’s over. You’re constantly evolving. Just recently, I was talking to someone from the New Jersey story and what their way were, how they were explaining to me, what is going on today is light years ahead of where they were at, 3 to 5 years ago. And 3 to 5 years ago, they were doing a hell of a job, in terms of how they were collecting, processing, and sharing information. But because of, not only the experience level of the folks involved on the ground doing this, but also because of technology, they’re constantly refining the way they do things and, flattening out the learning curve for folks that may just be starting out in this realm, because there’s always a big turnover in law enforcement. And also compressing the timeline to think. What was unique and continues to be unique about an entity like New Jersey. And those entities within New Jersey, from the different levels, whether it’s at the federal, state, and local level, they have information-sharing apparatus that they’ve leveraged. The fusion center. It’s a statewide fusion center, okay. There was originally stood up to address terrorism. And then wasn’t long after, that center was also focusing on crime. And then in the last 10 to 15 years how the fusion center has shifted its focus depending on what was happening topically right, to address the crisis right now. It’s been pandemic besides violent crime. My point is to be able to leverage those apparatus that are in a fusion center and real-time crime centers to not only assist with collecting information, processing it, analyzing it, and then sharing it. That has been the secret sauce in New Jersey that has been able to support not only the current status, but the evolution going forward.
Audience Question: Is there a standard time duration for case turnaround time? How long should a case spend in a firearms laboratory if all required exhibits have been provided? And of course, Ray, if you’d like to answer this one as well.
Jim Needles: Timeliness is key to a successful firearms strategy. The quicker you can get this information from the time the cartridge case hits the cement, till the time a lead is generated for that investigator, and that information is back to that investigator is crucial to continue the investigation. So, there’s a time frame, we shoot for 24 hours. If we can get it done in that time frame, that’s great. Other agencies right now are shooting for less than that, they’re shooting to have that turnaround time and in just hours to get that information back to investigators. So, timeliness is a crucial part of a firearms strategy. And when setting up your firearms strategy, your processes need to be cognizant of that. When setting up your processes, you want to have timeliness in mind and how are we going to get this information to the investigators as quickly as possible. Once we get to investigate the information to the investigators, then we can break that chain of violence, and prevent the next shooting.
Ray Guidetti: I would sort of add to that, I am a huge supporter of timeliness. It’s so critical in terms of being able to get information out to the field as fast as possible. But also recognize that timeliness is so important, and I hope I conveyed that story in the presentation and shortly even speaking to it now, is that there is no shortcut in any of this. You cannot just flip a switch and say, “Okay, we’re processing NIBIN leads now, and we don’t really have to pay attention to this anymore.” There is a constant evolution that has to take place. That starts with getting it right with those elements of a successful NIBIN program. But with that requires champions and leaders to look at that. As Jim said, “How do we constantly just flatten that time it takes to process the lead?” So, there are other things that have to be done, through the investigative process. It’s just not the NIBIN turnaround. Now, it’s requiring, particularly in agencies that are separate from the frequency of gun violence to be able to process that information against other NIBIN leads. Against other contextual information in the criminal environment, then be able to take that information and make it actionable to the investigators in the field, until the investigators can do their work well. We want to get this done as fast as possible, because not only do we want to catch a shooter. But more importantly, we want to prevent the next shooting. And I’ll just end with this, if there are shell casings that are down in the street near a stop sign, okay. Maybe in years past, we’d overlook that because were there real property damage? Was there anyone hurt? Well, now we all recognize a dozen potential leads. And the faster that we can process that information, the better enabled we’re going to be to prevent the next shooter or stop the next shooting or even arrest those serial shooters. We can only do that with a quick turnaround on the NIBIN front end and put everything into gear that has to follow the NIBIN processing. So, speed matters here.
Click Here to Watch a Recording of Building a Crime Gun Intelligence Capability.