Webinar presenters Kristin Brewer, Chief Gordon Ramsay, and Lieutenant Chad Beard answered a number of your questions after their presentation, The Wichita Crime Gun Intelligence Center: a Unique Law Enforcement University Partnership Approach. Here are just a few of their responses.
Audience Question: What goes into those feedback letters that you mentioned towards the beginning of the presentation?
Kristin Brewer: This is Kristin. I have Lieutenant Chad Beard here with me. I’m going to let Chad talk about what goes in those feedback letters.
Lieutenant Chad Beard: Hello. My name is Lieutenant Chad Beard. I’m with the Gang Felony Assault section here in Wichita. As part of the feedback letters, I make sure that the officer that actually collected the cartridge casings on the scene, I put that in the feedback letter, and then, I make sure that that gets sent out to their supervisor in the field, as well as the Captain of their bureau. So that they can have them put into the officers’ personnel file. I tell them that thank you for being diligent about collecting the cartridge casing and that we appreciate their hard work and that this casing was actually connected to another incident and we at the CGIC Center, continue to try to follow up on that to hopefully make an arrest or use that intelligence information for other and criminal investigations. Hopefully, that answered your questions. If you have more, I can always get you more information.
Audience Question: Chief, haven’t you end up turning around the perception of the NIBIN program back when it wasn’t quite as effective?
Gordon Ramsay: Ultimately, we kept pushing and pushing and pushing and it was not just my effort. The ATF was very helpful in sharing stories of success. WSU was very helpful with our officers about showing data from other places but some changes in leadership are what it ultimately took. Well, I thought things were moving along. Well, you know, sometimes behind the scenes there’s just that deadweight that you don’t see that drag, that you don’t see until months and months go by and the needle hasn’t moved. Eventually, we did find where the drag was coming from and made the changes. I can tell you right now, even the skeptics that were out there when we first rolled this out, now, everybody, that they’re seeing this amount, the significant amount of intelligence and leads, I believe all of our folks now are believers in this system.
Audience Question: Who does your test firing and how many firearms examiners do you have?
Chad Beard: OK, so the Wichita Police Department, we’re in the process of possibly trying to obtain another, what I consider or what I’ve classified as a firearms technician currently. We have an officer that comes in every, at least 2 to 3 times a week, and right now we’re paying them overtime to test fire our firearms at our property and evidence building. We have a snail trap room that was established there so those casings are collected right there and then submit it right back into P&E which can be transported up to the CGIC Center. I’m sorry, I missed the second half of the question
Audience Question: So, it was, who does your test firing, and how many firearms examiners do you have?
Chad Beard: OK, currently, the Firearms examiners are through the Sedgwick County Regional Forensic Science Center. That’s been one of the things that have been one of our difficulties is continuing to keep those firms examiners here obviously would, you know, increase pay and different things like that. So, we’re currently using the Kansas Bureau of Investigations for all our firearms and comparisons that are needed for court testimony. We hope to fill that gap real soon with a new firearms examiner at the Sedgwick County Regional Forensic Science Center, real soon.
Kristin Brewer: As he was saying, that’s been the issue. And so, in our CGIC grant, we wrote in for a position for a firearms examiner.
Gordon Ramsay: OK, all these positions are so critical, that as an organization is looking at putting together a CJIC, you really should have the, almost do a mini org chart on what positions are going to have to be filled. It’s a lot to wrap your arms around if you haven’t been a part of one as well as one of the other things to watch. You know, you need to have metrics for your different entities. So, our firearms testing – the guy that shoots the guns, he was off for a while. All of a sudden, I saw our number of untested firearms were creeping up. I asked what happened somewhere along the line and got off track. It’s just one of those things you have to monitor. We weren’t meeting our 48-hour turnaround time. If you don’t pay attention to some of those little things, other things will fall.
Audience Question: How are leads tracked within the agency and how is accountability for follow-up handled?
Chad Beard: Again, this is Chad Beard again. Yeah, we have a weekly, what I call is a shooting review and currently, it’s a little more difficult, obviously with COVID. It has to be done through a webinar. During the shooting (review), we review recent shootings from the past week, including criminal discharge cases and all or any NIBIN leads that are associated with any of those shootings or shootings that have occurred within the past week or two. During that time, we have created a spreadsheet and for those that aren’t able to do the follow-up, if it’s not going directly to one of my detectives, we will assign that lead to either the officers or to the ATF-TFOs or to the ATF agents or we’ll discuss whether or not we need to close that lead out. We classify our leads in a tier system, so tier 1, 2, and 3. If it’s a tier-three, we’ll close that lead out. So, each week, during this meeting, and again, it’s been more difficult because of COVID, we usually try to go back and we’ll follow up to see what has been done on that case if we’ve made an arrest. Then we’ve also worked really close with our District Attorney’s office and our AUSA. So, they’ll know what people were starting to focus on, some were our priority offenders or trigger pullers and we will get with them. Then they also have a spreadsheet so that they know where their discoveries at, who’s been charged. where that case is at. So, we’ll know if that lead needs to be closed out or it’s part of the tracking as part of the grant requirements.
Kristin Brewer: All that grant and the tracking and the numbers, they come over to us at WSU and we help evaluate and say, look, there’s a need to focus on this particular hotspot or area as well.
Audience Question: Steve is asking if you are using any analytical software or tools to draw connections between the NIBIN hits? Steve goes on to say he’s received the IT charts from ATF that are hard to use at a local level. So, he’s wondering what software if you’re using any analytical software to draw connections?
Chad Beard: We do use the IT program. I’m not 100% sure what actual computer program that is ATF, ————– who are with the ATF and with WPD contractors will put the charts in, will review the lead’s before they come to me. I’m sure it’s somewhat labor-intensive in reference to knowing how to, I mean, you have to be skilled in reference to using that program but is a huge tool for us because of the officers and my detectives. It’s much easier to look at the chart and be able to establish what guns are being used in different locations as well as what guns are recovered. So, any type of program where you can map that out is very, very helpful for everyone.
Audience Question: How much pushback have you experienced from people who feel like the government might be just keeping the cases for other reasons?
Gordon Ramsay: So, this is all voluntary program as well as they keep the casings themselves. So, the gun owner puts the casing in the envelope and they keep that envelope in case their gun is stolen or lost. So, they do not give it to us. They keep it unless the gun ends up, missing or stolen.
Kristin Brewer: Aaron, just so we’re clear there was a little bit of pushback at the beginning. But everything they seem to enjoy it as they go on gun shows – I don’t know the exact numbers but I know that Chief Salcedo went out to a gun show and they had a good turnout. They actually had to order more envelopes because people were requesting them at gun shows in different places.
Gordon Ramsey: People are hypersensitive to government intervention with guns and once you explain to people how the program works, even the strongest and most concerned gun rights advocates are behind it.
Audience Question: Why aren’t you entering revolvers into NIBIN?
Kristin Brewer: We actually are. It’s not continuously but as needed, we are entering revolvers, 38’s into it.
Audience Question: Are you doing any other analysis on the firearms that you see such as DNA or latent prints?
Lieutenant Chad Beard: What we try to do in each incident is it varies. If, obviously, if the gun is seized off of a person, we’re not likely to submit it for prints or DNA. However, if a gun is found or it’s just recovered. It’s found on a car stop, and you have, you know, 4 or 5 people inside of it, we are requesting that the firearm be swabbed for possible DNA evidence and then also fingerprinted. I am trying to put some training together, hopefully for officers. The goal is to have what we call gun liaison officers, which would be specially trained to obtain the DNA right there on the scene and then submit that. We can actually get the test fires sooner than having to wait for the DNA and the fingerprints to come back, which is a part of a delay. So that’s one of the things. Right now, we’ve just kind of altered our way of doing cartridge casings. Initially, we were swabbing and trying to print every cartridge casing, especially on a nonfatal shooting or discharge case. We’ve stopped that unless there is a significant injury or it’s a homicide case because we would much rather get the information into NIBIN because we are getting so many leads and so much good information from the cartridge casings. It’s really a very rare chance that we get any type of latent prints or DNA back on the cartridge casings anyway. It’s much better to get the casings entered into NIBIN so that we can get a result back on that.
Host: We actually did a webinar probably three years ago with the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office that talked about their entire program for the DNA and latent print analysis. So, if y’all are interested, I would refer you to that program. We’ll try to provide a link in our e-mail that goes out tomorrow.
Audience Question: How often are you confirming the leads via microscopic comparison?
Lieutenant Chad Beard: The microscopic leads, obviously, once the information is given to be Aaron or Shelby, who analyze the cartridge casing, the office that they are sent to is the correlation center for verification and then we get that information back. Since we’ve had so many successful cases developed from that, it’s still required that the casings and if we do recover a firearm have to be submitted to a forensic or fire marker tool examiner for confirmation. And so that’s again, where our hang-up has been, where we’ve lost the forensic science or the technician at Forensic Science Centers. So now all of our firearms are going to the KBI for official comparison because we will need somebody to testify in court on that. I hope that answers the question on that.
Audience Question: Regarding the evaluations that the Midwest Criminal Justice Institute is creating, are they process evaluations, impact evaluations, efficiency evaluations? What kind of evaluations is MCGI performing?
Kristin Brewer: Both. We do process evaluation and impact evaluations. We do a multitude of different ones. I mean, it’s not just WPD that we do them for. That is specifically, on our projects with them. Those are the ones that we’re doing, like hotspot analysis and different areas.
Click Here to Watch a Recording of The Wichita Crime Gun Intelligence Center: a Unique Law Enforcement and University Partnership Approach.