Texas PD Innovates Federal Database to Trace, Curb Gun Violence

Nov. 2, 2022
The Arlington Police Department is working on a pilot program to improve a longstanding national evidence database that the chief calls a "game changer."

ARLINGTON, TX—Arlington police are piloting a new initiative to curb gun violence, connect the dots between seemingly unrelated shootings and disrupt serial shooters.

The nine-person unit is the first of its kind in North Texas, Arlington police Chief Al Jones said Wednesday at a news conference. The team innovates a longstanding national evidence database, the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network, to link crimes and aggressively chase suspected shooters.

Arlington’s NIBIN Engagement Team, formed in late July, has led to 25 arrests in Arlington cases and spurred more than 320 leads, according to the department.

Jones called the program a “game changer.”

“It’s really driven by intelligence,” he said. “We try to take a holistic approach to gun violence and gun issues by providing detectives with valuable information to disrupt violence in the community.”

NIBIN traces and matches evidence between cases that may otherwise not appear to be connected. NIBIN is a decades-old database maintained by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and stores millions of pieces of ballistic evidence, ATF Dallas Acting Special Agent in Charge James VanVliet said.

For example, NIBIN linked multiple shootings between June 2020 and January 2021 — including a road rage incident where an off-duty Tarrant County constable was fired upon but uninjured. Zackey Rahimi, 22, was arrested in connection with several instances of gun violence and is currently serving more than six years in federal prison for a firearms-related charge. He also faces charges in Tarrant County, according to court records. A lawyer representing Rahimi in the Tarrant County cases did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Arlington police have used NIBIN for more than a decade, but the new program is solely dedicated to pursuing investigative leads. The program could also help other police Dallas-Fort Worth agencies, and the unit has passed along information to other police departments, Jones and Deputy Chief Kyle Dishko said.

Dishko said the team’s focus is proactive policing to “stop the shooting cycle.”

“What we’re doing differently is we’re going out there and we’re targeting people who have been involved in the shooting cycle in some form or fashion,” Dishko said. “We’re looking at other ways to get the guns and that person into custody and to make sure that they don’t commit any further violence in our community.”

Violent crime is up 9% since January this year compared to 2021, Jones said. While homicides are down, the department has responded to nearly 100 more aggravated assaults since January of this year compared to the same period last year, according to the department’s data. Reducing violent crime has been a priority for Jones since he was sworn in as the city’s police chief in 2021.

“Each of these incidents have somebody’s loved one behind [it],” Jones said.

He added: “We want to make sure that we are going after the violent offenders, these trigger pullers, in our city and we want them to know we are coming after them.”

The pilot program will last until January. Then the department will assess its success and decide whether to make the program permanent, the police chief said.

Arlington, home to about 400,000 people, is in Tarrant County, between Dallas and Fort Worth.


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