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Affiliated institutions: The Lab @ DC

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Category: Methods and Measures

Description: The Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) was awarded a grant from the Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of Justice Programs (OJP) Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) to enhance the capabilities of the Washington, DC Crime Gun Intelligence Center (CGIC). The DC CGIC is a multi-agency collaboration aimed at reducing gun violence in the District. Alongside MPD, the Department of Forensic Sciences (DFS), the U.S. Attorney's Office (USAO), and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the CGIC employs ATF's National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN) to link ballistic evidence across cases where the same gun is used multiple times, with the goal of identifying, detaining, and prosecuting the most active shooters in the city. In performing those functions, the CGIC aims to reduce gun crime in Washington, DC. The grant supported collective efforts to build on the existing DC CGIC — specifically, to improve the speed with which ballistic evidence is processed and entered into NIBIN and distributed to MPD's detectives, and to enhance the capacity of MPD, DFS, and the CGIC to use output from NIBIN. This set of improvements, referred to as “CGIC 2.0,” was piloted in DC’s Seventh Police District (7D). We conducted descriptive analyses to shed light on the relationship between the implementation of the CGIC 2.0 improvements and case clearance rates, prosecutorial outcomes, and on detectives’ perceptions of the utility of the CGIC. We find some preliminary evidence to suggest that NIBIN information, and CGIC products generally, are useful to advancing the investigatory process. We also use a quasi-experimental research design to evaluate the causal impact of the CGIC 2.0 enhancements on violent crime outcomes. We find no measurable effect on violent crime rates, ShotSpotter alerts, calls for service for sounds of gunshots, or arrest rates as measured during the study period. If the CGIC 2.0 enhancements had significant effects on violent crime outcomes, those effects may take more time to be realized than was possible during the grant period. Therefore, we recommend maintaining the current implementation of CGIC 2.0 in 7D and revisiting the quasi-experimental outcomes in 18 to 24 months.

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