NIBIN is an investigative tool for law enforcement that is accessible through the WVSP Forensic Laboratory (WVSPFL). Below is a series of some commonly asked questions along with their answers. In addition, instructions on how to have your eligible evidence entered into NIBIN along with any necessary forms to be filled out are on this web page.
Click here for additional links and forms
What is NIBIN and how does it work?
The National Integrated Ballistic Information Network, commonly referred to as NIBIN, is a database comprised of digital images of cartridge cases submitted by local, state, and federal agencies. NIBIN’s aim is to provide investigative leads for law enforcement related to gun crime.
Captured images from cartridge cases and firearms recovered at crime scenes, or from confiscated firearms, can be entered into NIBIN. Once entered, those images will be sorted and searched against the database to return other similarly marked cartridge cases. A NIBIN user will then examine the images to determine if any potential leads (potential matches) are present. Potential leads will then be communicated to the relevant agencies involved.
The WVSP Forensic Laboratory has two methods of submission that are detailed more on this web page.
NIBIN By Appointment
Traditional Laboratory Submission
How does NIBIN benefit me? Why should I participate?
NIBIN is a network that allows the comparison of a piece of evidence that has been entered with thousands of other exhibits in a very short period of time. This tool can help to solve and prevent violent crime that involves the use of firearms. As NIBIN users at the WVSPFL, our goal is to provide you with leads in a timely manner and aid you in the investigative process.
NIBIN can provide links between crimes that are suspected of being connected, as well as provide links between crimes that had no previous appearance of being connected.
However, this only works if you participate! Just like searching a fingerprint through AFIS or looking for a match to someone’s DNA in CODIS, if the database being used is not populated with information it is of little use.
The population of the NIBIN database with local items of evidence is dependent upon the participation of all of West Virginia’s law enforcement agencies. If you do
not participate, the chances of you getting a lead for an investigation you are working on is 0%!
What is a potential lead, how will I be notified, and what is a hit?
A potential lead is the association of two or more cases through the digital comparison of the items of evidence entered into NIBIN. Agencies will be notified of a potential lead through a lead notification form. This form will be emailed to the agencies that are involved in the potential lead. The NIBIN program will make every effort to inform agencies of potential leads within 24 hours of them being developed. This means it is critical the contact information (email & phone) you provide on the paperwork for NIBIN is correct.
Note: A potential lead is not a report, and the items of evidence involved have not been examined by a firearms examiner under a comparison microscope. A lead notification form is
not meant to be used in court as testimony that a firearm fired a particular fired cartridge case, or that multiple fired cartridge cases were fired in the same unknown firearm.
A hit is when the items of evidence involved in a potential lead have been microscopically examined by a Firearms Examiner and been confirmed as having been fired in the same firearm. A hit is the subject of a forensic laboratory report and
can be testified to in court by a firearms examiner. Instructions on how to confirm a potential lead are detailed in a document at the bottom of this web page.
Is my evidence eligible?
The following firearms are eligible for entry into NIBIN:
- All semi-automatic pistols.
- Semi-automatic rifles chambered for 7.62x39 and 5.56x45 (223 Remington).
- Semi-automatic or slide action shotguns chambered for 12 gauge.
- Long guns chambered for pistol cartridges (this includes 22 Long Rifle)
Fired cartridge cases are also eligible as long as they are a caliber included in the above firearms.
Revolvers are not eligible for entry into NIBIN. Any firearm or fired cartridge case/shotshell not meeting the above requirements will require justification to be entered into NIBIN.
Contact the NIBIN program with any questions.
What evidence is needed for submission?
Two types of evidence are needed for the NIBIN program to be successful:
- Submit all eligible firearms (or test fires) that are seized or from crime scenes. It is preferred if you have the capability that you test fire the firearm and submit only the test fires with the appropriate firearm information requested on the WVSP Form 53B.
Submit all eligible fired cartridge cases from crime scenes.
- If you are submitting a firearm, make sure the magazine is submitted as well.
To ensure timely entry, it is required that you package any evidence with a NIBIN request separate from all other evidence when you are submitting to the laboratory.
It is vital that all evidence cartridge cases from all crime scenes are submitted. When firearms are submitted to be entered into NIBIN, they will correlate against other evidence entered into NIBIN.
How do I get my evidence into NIBIN?
Entry of your evidence into NIBIN can occur 1 of 2 ways. Forms for each way are located at the bottom of this web page.
If NIBIN is the only examination needed, then we request you use method 1 if your agency can travel to the WVSPFL.
If you have additional forensic examinations that are needed on the evidence involved for NIBIN entry, then you will need to use method 2.
Please note it may be appropriate that you bring evidence for NIBIN by appointment and then submit additional evidence to the laboratory. If NIBIN is the only request for the firearm and fired cartridge cases (or shotshells) then NIBIN by Appointment can still be used.
Method 1: NIBIN by Appointment
NOTICE: After evidence has gone through the NIBIN by Appointment program, it is not eligible to have Latent Print and/or DNA requests performed. These requests must be done before the evidence is entered into NIBIN.
The WVSPFL established the appointment program in order to more efficiently enter evidence into NIBIN. This program will allow law enforcement to have test fires from seized firearms and/or evidence cartridge cases from crime scenes entered into NIBIN quickly. It is known that the greater the time between the date of the crime and the date an investigating officer is provided a new lead, the less useful the lead becomes. If you choose to use the appointment program, then you can essentially skip the backlogged evidence that is present at the WVSPFL. Entry of your evidence will be made into NIBIN on the same day with all efforts made to review database searches of that evidence within 48 hours. If a potential lead is developed, your agency will be notified of the potential lead and provided the relevant case information. Using this program could dramatically reduce the time between the crime and when an investigator can use information from a lead to benefit their case. There are many more benefits if you choose to participate.
Agencies that choose to participate will NOT have to do the following:
- Fill out submission paperwork for the traditional laboratory process (WVSP Form 53, 53A, 53B).
- Go through the submission process in our Central Evidence Receiving Section.
- Wait for evidence to be processed in our traditional laboratory process to get a lead.
- Wait to have your evidence returned to you.
- Enter into an additional chain of custody for your evidence. Your evidence and/or test fires will be entered in your presence, while you wait. Your evidence never leaves your custody.
You can participate in the NIBIN by Appointment program by simply:
- Completing a WVSPFL NIBIN Information Request Form (NIRF).
- Contacting our NIBIN program and request to schedule an appointment.
- Travel to the WVSPFL on the day of your appointment.
A document with a more detailed explanation of the NIBIN by Appointment process is at the bottom of this web page. Please review this document in its entirety before calling to schedule an appointment so that you know what is expected of you before and during the appointment process.
Method 2: Traditional Laboratory Submissions
NIBIN evidence can be entered into NIBIN by submitting it to the laboratory in the traditional process, meaning the evidence is appropriately packaged and sealed, laboratory submission forms are completed, and the evidence is either mailed to or dropped off at our Central Evidence Receiving Section.
This submission process should be used if the firearm(s) or fired cartridge case(s) / shotshell(s) being submitted are also being submitted for additional forensic testing. The other circumstance that would make this method of submission appropriate is if you cannot travel to the WVSPFL to participate in the NIBIN by Appointment program.
For a traditional laboratory submission, it is required that you complete a WVSP Form 53. In addition to this form, if you are requesting the evidence be entered into NIBIN, you are now going to also need to complete a WVSP Form 53B.
Note: Remember, if DNA is requested on any of the items a 53A is required as well.
All efforts will be made to enter evidence received via traditional laboratory submissions in a timely manner. However, when evidence must go through other sections, we cannot control how quickly it gets to the NIBIN program for entry. Entry of evidence via traditional laboratory submission will be in the order in which the cases are received.
NIBIN Contact Information:
Phone: (304) 746-2241
Links for NIBIN by Appointment documents:
NIBIN Information Request Form (NIRF)- required
Links for Traditional Laboratory Submission documents:
WVSP Form 53 (Submission request)- required
WVSP Form 53A (DNA Supplemental)
WVSP Form 53B (NIBIN Supplemental) - required
Link for informational documents:
NIBIN Program Flyer – instruction on how to participate in the appointment program.
How to Confirm a Potential Lead – instruction on how to confirm leads that have been disseminated to your agency. This is only if a confirmation is