FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Fort Lauderdale will be investigating shootings like no other city in Broward County.
Police Chief Larry Scirotto and Mayor Dean Trantalis announced on Tuesday at City Hall that a nearly $470,000 federal grant will help set up the city’s new Law Enforcement Crime Gun Intelligence Center and support its tech.
“Any opportunity that we have as a city to reduce gun violence is going to enhance the quality of life here in our community,” Trantalis said during the news conference.
From 2018 to 2020, the city experienced a 51% increase in armed incidents, according to the grant application. The ShotSpotter system is already helping officers to respond to shootings, but now they will be collecting bullet casings even when there are no identifiable victims.
“What we’re trying to do is to tie that casing to the discharge of a firearm from any other crime whether recovered evidence from other shootings and creating investigative leads from that analysis,” Scirotto said during the news conference.
The center will use ballistic fingerprints — a firearm’s unique pattern of markings left on discharged ammunition that serves as a forensics tool — and will focus on the central area where about 40% of the shootings happen.
The center will have access to a national database and it’s designed to make it easier for FLPD to work with the FBI; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms; the US Marshalls Service; the Department of Correction Probation and Parole; the Broward Sheriff’s Office, and the Broward County State Attorney’s Office.
Years in the making
In 1997, ATF established the National Integrated Ballistics Identification Network, or NIBIN, a digital database of crime evidence.
The NIBIN’s National Correlation and Training Center, or NNCTC, has been returning investigative leads since it opened in April 2016.
ATF launched the Crime Gun Intelligence Centers across multiple jurisdictions in July 2016 to collect, analyze and distribute intelligence data about crime guns.
“The CGIC approach is evidence-based, and it is able to grow with the needs of its community. It is an approach that combines comprehensive and integrated tracing, detection, and analysis with ongoing community engagement. It is based on decades of evidence-based best practices,” Rep. Ted Deutch said in a statement.
FLPD and BSO are among NIBIN’s 20 partners in Florida. The list also included the crime labs at the Miami Police Department, the Miami Gardens Police Department, Miami-Dade Police Department, and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, according to ATF.
In April, FLPD received a NIBIN machine to increase efficiency. The city also plans to add surveillance cameras in hot spots that will be connected to the department’s Real Time Crime Center, or RTCC. The mobile license plate readers will also help detectives.
After a shooting during an Easter Sunday street party outside Tony’s Market, injured a 6-year-old girl and a teenage girl, Scirotto said he put the system to work. Detectives analyzed 148 shell casings all with unique markings and 14 were associated with two other shootings.
“That resulted in one arrest that our federal partners have taken for prosecution,” Scirotto said.