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Cincinnati Tough Gun Stance Expanding To Columbus

Ann Thompson
Cincinnati Police Sgt. Don Scalf looks at the NIBIN ATF system that helps tie ballistics to crimes. Area departments are training to use Cincinnati's equipment.

A Cincinnati Police-federal government partnership targeting violent offenders is going so well the U.S. Attorney's Office is expanding it to Columbus.

In the spring of 2016 Cincinnati and the ATF, DEA, FBI, the Hamilton County Sheriff's Department and the U.S. Attorney's Office stepped up efforts to pool their intelligence and identify what violent criminals are causing the most problems in Cincinnati. The partnership included two attorneys from the City Solicitor's Office on loan to the U.S. Attorney.

Credit ATF
You may have seen these ATF billboards targeting people who are tempted to buy guns for criminals who can't have them.

Violent criminals are more often facing federal weapons charges. According to U.S. Attorney Ben Glassman, "Working to identify those folks we can actually prosecute the gun possession in a way that kind of actually smartly identifies and removes the most violent offenders."

Glassman says his office prosecuted more than 50 cases in the past year.

ATF agent-in-charge Frank Occhipinti says an updated national ballistic database (NIBIN) is helping tie suspects to crimes faster. It analyzes digital images of shell casings to ones used nationwide. The system is expensive. Other area departments are training to use Cincinnati's equipment.

"Recently there was an individual that was involved in several shootings in Avondale. We knew who this individual was and we spent the better part of three days tracking him down and arresting him. We ended up seizing two firearms from him and he's a suspect in several shootings. Pretty heinous crimes."

Cincinnati Police Officer Chris Volgelpohl has the job of looking at the spent shell casings and sending images of them. Each gun makes its own little mark like a fingerprint.

Sgt. Don Scalf looks on. "What it's doing is it's giving us leads we didn't have before."

Ann Thompson has decades of journalism experience in the Greater Cincinnati market and brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her reporting.