The Integrated Ballistics Identification System (IBIS) is the equipment and program used to upload images of fired cartridge cases into the National Integrated Ballistics Identification Network (NIBIN), which is maintained by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). When a cartridge case (whether a test fire or crime evidence) is entered into the system, a proprietary algorithm returns a list of possible ‘matches.’ IBIS does not identify a specific firearm but rather provides investigative leads.
Using crime data, the ATF has established ‘default,’ or automatic search areas, for each IBIS unit. The OSBI’s IBIS unit is automatically searched to surrounding states and selections of ATF entries. What this means to officers in Oklahoma is that when you submit a firearm or fired cartridge case to the OSBI for entry into NIBIN, your evidence is only searched/compared to evidence from those areas. Your evidence is not automatically searched/compared against NIBIN entries from across the entire nation.
There are times when investigative information may necessitate expansion of the NIBIN search to include NIBIN entries from other areas of the United States. When this occurs, a manual correlation may be requested and conducted. This may be done by IBIS region, state, or even specific city.
Some examples of situations that may indicate a need for expansion of the search area include:
- A subject with past violent criminal history outside of the automatic IBIS search area;
- A subject with known travel plans to/from locations that have them traveling through Oklahoma and on to other states;
- A subject with past residences outside of the automatic IBIS search area; or
- A firearm associated with possible drug trafficking across states.
If the need arises to have the firearm(s) and/or fired cartridge case(s) from crime scenes compared to another geographical location, contact the OSBI Firearms and Toolmarks Unit to discuss an additional search.
At this time, it is not feasible to compare every firearm and/or fired cartridge case from crime scenes to the whole nation. This would delay the results from being returned to the requesting agency, as well as to other agencies, as the program and servers can only perform so many correlations at a time. This is why each agency is asked to contact the OSBI Firearms and Toolmarks Unit when asking for a manual correlation, to ensure resources are used optimally.
If your agency has any unsolved cases that may benefit from a manual correlation to another region outside of the automatic IBIS search area and has already been submitted and entered by the OSBI, this manual correlation can likely be performed without the re-submission of that evidence. Please, contact the OSBI Firearms and Toolmarks Unit to further discuss this potential investigative tool.
If you have any further questions or comments, please, do not hesitate to contact the OSBI Firearms and Toolmarks Unit at 405-330-6724 or toll-free at 800-522-8253.