We explore the impact of information from ballistics imaging hit reports on the investigation into violent crimes. Ballistics imaging hits link two crimes involving the same firearm by forensically matching tool marks on the fired bullets or cartridge cases. Interview data collected from detectives who received a hit report were used to explore the relationship between the presence of a hit report and outcomes in 65 gun-related violent crime investigations in nine U.S. police agencies. Findings indicate hit reports rarely contribute to identification, arrest, charging, or sentencing of suspects, because of delays in producing hit reports. On average, hit reports were completed 181.4 days after the focal crime. This delay forces investigations to proceed without the benefit of information from ballistics analysis. Additionally, hit reports rarely contained detailed information that was immediately useful to investigators. Instead, hit reports required additional research by the investigator to unlock useful information.
- forensic science
- gun crime
- National Integrated Ballistics Information Network
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine