The Firearms Unit personnel conduct examinations of firearms, ammunition, fired bullets, spent cartridge cases and shot shells, shot and wadding. They test fire seized firearms to obtain known specimens of bullets, cartridge cases, or shot shells. These specimens are used for microscopic comparison with cartridge cases, bullets or shot shells that are recovered during the investigation of a crime to determine the firearm used. The Unit also has the capability of examining a shooting victim’s clothing to determine the possible muzzle-to-garment distance. The Unit’s personnel restore obliterated serial numbers on firearms and examine tool mark evidence.
The Firearms Unit is also responsible for utilizing the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN). NIBIN is a database of digital images of fired cartridge cases that were found at crime scenes or test-fired from confiscated weapons. The goal of the system is to identify firearms or fired cartridge cases that may link criminal incidents. All fired cartridge cases recovered at crime scenes are evaluated by the Firearms Unit for entry into the NIBIN. Those items that are entered are correlated (searched) automatically against all entries made in Colorado. Hits identified during correlation review are confirmed through hands-on, microscopic comparisons. Once verified, a notification of the hit is sent to the investigating detectives for each incident that has been linked.
The Unit is a founding member and active participant in the Denver Crime Gun Intelligence Center (CGIC).
CGIC is a multi-agency investigative taskforce built around NIBIN that began operation in 2013. The mission of the Denver CGIC is to identify serial shooters and their sources of crime guns for immediate disruption, investigation and prosecution by integrating and leveraging NIBIN, crime gun tracing and ShotSpotter (a sound-based gunshot detection system deployed throughout the city). Current participants in the CGIC include law enforcement agencies of Denver, Lakewood, Aurora, Commerce City, Thornton, Westminster; as well as Adams, Arapahoe, and Jefferson Counties.