FDLE announces new crimefighting tool to assist in large scale firearms investigations

For Immediate Release
December 18, 2023
TAMPA, Fla. – The Florida Department of Law Enforcement announces its latest tool to assist with large scale investigations involving firearms: a mobile ballistics platform to assist in remotely and quickly processing firearms while onsite at a crime scene.
The FDLE Tampa Bay Regional Operations Center’s mobile ballistics platform is a contained range, where investigators can shoot firearms and collect the cartridge cases for processing. The cartridge cases collected from testing firearms on scene can be sent to FDLE’s crime labs, then entered into the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN) to possibly generate investigative leads. This new, more efficient process will allow FDLE crime lab analysts to link the weapons to previous criminal cases more quickly.
FDLE Tampa Bay Special Agent in Charge Mark Brutnell, Assistant Special Agent in Charge Brannon Sheely, and Chief of Forensics Justin Greenwell have been working tirelessly to find a way to quicken the timeline for evidence processing and investigations, as well as create a tool that can be used by our law enforcement partners in the region.
“Right now, if you come to the lab and physically, bring a gun to our lab for us to examine it, our turnaround times are anywhere from 90 to 100 days. This machine, with the plan to one day add a mobile connection to NIBIN, could cut that down from anywhere to 12 to 14 hours,” said Special Agent in Charge Brutnell.
The trailer currently can be used as a contained range; investigators can shoot firearms straight from a crime scene or at the comfort of their own headquarters. Then, with a Phase 2 plan to go completely mobile, cartridge cases from the test shots can be directly entered into NIBIN to possibly generate investigative leads. This new, more efficient process will allow FDLE crime lab analysts to link the weapons to previous criminal cases quickly.
“We’re trying to get this information as quickly as possible so we can start connecting the dots,” Assistant Special Agent in Charge Sheely said. “By getting this information to the sheriff’s offices and police departments, we can get these leads worked faster, which will get bad actors off the streets much quicker. By being mobile, we can go to a crime scene and process multiple guns on scene, starting this part of the investigative process immediately.”
In the wake of mass casualty incidents such as the Lakeland and Ybor City shootings, this equipment can be vital to the Tampa Bay region, and also become useful to any processing backlog that may exist at local departments. It is one of the many ways that FDLE continues to improve law enforcement techniques to better serve the citizens of Florida.
For Further Information Contact:
FDLE Office of Public information
(850) 410-7001

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FDLE is composed of five areas: Executive Direction and Business Support, Criminal Investigations and Forensic Science, Criminal Justice Information, Criminal Justice Professionalism and Florida Capitol Police. FDLE’s duties, responsibilities and procedures are mandated through Chapter 943, FS, and Chapter 11, FAC. To learn more about these areas, read our Statement of Agency Organization and Operation or visit our Open Government page.