Baltimore's ballistics backlog
BALTIMORE (WBFF) - Behind the tape, not far from where a murder has just happened, is evidence that Baltimore Police are beginning to take a closer look at.
Currently, there is a ballistics backlog of spent shell casings that have been collected from crime scenes in the city but have yet to be imaged and entered into a national ATF database. The backlog dates back at least eight months. April's riots and an upsurge in murders prompted federal authorities to converge on the Baltimore Police Department's (BPD) crime lab.
"There are certain states and local agencies that have such a backlog that we are now assisting them in getting information into the NIBIN system," ATF IBIS Chief Walter Dandridge says.
So just how serious is the backlog?
Seven months ago there were 600 pending cases. Since the upsurge in murders, the backlog has jumped to 965 at last count.
The department points out that gun seizures are up 24%. But are they the right guns?
The only way to know that is through the comparison of shell casings collected at other crimes. But that can't be done if images of the spent cartridges have yet to be taken and uploaded into a national database.
Those links, or connections, are called a lead---or a hit.
So far this year Baltimore's crime lab has seen 175 hits --- almost three times the number of hits in all of 2014.
But with shootings and murders at a record pace the backlog continues to grow.
As of November 1 there were 533 non-fatal shootings in the city, the fifth highest number of shootings recorded in 15 years. Baltimore's crime lab has six firearms examiners.
Nationally FOX45 found labs with the same caseload have between 18 to 20 firearm examiners.