Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Director Steven Dettelbach and Senator Jerry Moran recently visited Wichita State University to announce plans for a unique new National Forensic Science Laboratory at WSU.
The forensics lab is a new $75 million facility that will complement the Gun Crime Intelligence Center of Excellence (GCIC) and the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN) Correlation and Training Center (NNCTC II), which were announced last summer.
“The reason this makes all the sense in the world is the tradition, the excellence in innovation of Wichita State University and the people right here in Kansas,” Dettelbach said.
The forensics lab will use the latest in firearms DNA processing and ballistics evidence, and add an additional 100 student and full-time jobs, on top of the 200 jobs expected with the addition of NNCTC II.
“This will be an expansive effort with our academic partners to assess how law enforcement around the world investigates violent crime,” Dettelbach said. “The power of the ideas that will come out of this campus… is limitless for the future. It’s truly a game-changer.”
“This announcement heralds new opportunities for students in an era of digital transformation, connecting criminal justice and forensics students with real-world opportunities in applied learning and research,” said Kristin Brewer, director of WSU’s Midwest Criminal Justice Institute. “It will also bring innovation and creativity to issues law enforcement faces in combating gun crime and develop crime weapon intelligence strategies for law enforcement agencies locally and across the country.”
Understand the importance of criminal weapons intelligence
Dettelbach said gun intelligence is critical to solving and preventing firearm crimes. He described crime weapon intelligence as using the most advanced evidence-gathering techniques in the world to examine everything inside and outside — and everything ejected from the front and back — of the weapon to aid in the apprehension.
NNCTC II will enhance ATF’s current capacity to support local, territorial, tribal, state, federal and international law enforcement agencies, ensuring rapid turnaround time and providing detectives with the leads they need within hours.
“If NIBIN helps us catch the shooters, then this DNA actually slams the prison door shut,” Dettelbach said. “Now we have to build the capacity to process the evidence in a timely manner for local law enforcement, for those same detectives, and that’s going to happen right here at Wichita State University.”
Development of new curriculum
Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) Director Karhlton F. Moore further detailed the BJA’s commitment to support NIBIN and the crime weapons intelligence efforts at WSU.
The BJA recently awarded WSU a $1.3 million grant to create a national model for promoting gun crime tactics and strategy for current and future generations of modern violent crime fighters, in conjunction with ATF efforts.
The funding enables WSU to create new curriculum for students, specifically focused on preparing them to deal with violent crime through the development and use of crime weapon intelligence and other new investigative technologies.
This new curriculum will provide Wichita State students with knowledge and experience using the most advanced techniques in the collection, processing and investigative use of crime weapon intelligence as part of a holistic violent crime reduction strategy.
“The students who graduate with that knowledge and understanding will be in demand,” Moore said.
“Our students will be thoroughly prepared for careers in public safety, investigation and law enforcement through applied learning experiences that teach them to process evidence, generate intelligence and provide them with advanced education and hands-on training in criminal justice.” said WSU President Rick Muma. “Upon graduation, our Shockers will be able to make meaningful contributions to their employers and their communities.”
Moore said the grant will also fund applied research that will drive the next leap forward in weapons of crime intelligence concepts, theory and strategy — which works nationwide with law enforcement. The course offerings will be developed in collaboration with WSU and ATF.
“This is especially important right now — at a time when police departments across the country are struggling to recruit officers,” Moore said. “This is building a workforce for the next generation of crime fighters.”
“These unique partnerships will allow for the development and implementation of a national model for gun and violent crime innovation and strategy,” Brewer said. “The funding will build on WSU’s existing programs and create new opportunities that will emphasize applied learning and research and real-world experience. This will better prepare students for current and future challenges facing violent crime law enforcement and forensics transfer.”
“As the ATF moves into its new home on our campus, it will undoubtedly lead to research and breakthroughs as a result of the collaborations available through the proximity of Wichita State’s Department of Criminal Justice and the Law Enforcement Training Center, ” said Muma.
“The thing that strikes me — as crimes are investigated across the country, I can hear this phrase that will be said by the country’s sheriff or trooper or detective: ‘We’ve got to get this to Wichita,'” Moran said. “I like the idea that crime is being fought in the largest city in our state, and we’re helping the rest of the country achieve that.”
About Wichita State University
Wichita State University is Kansas’ only public urban research university, enrolling nearly 22,000 students between its main campus and WSU Tech, including students from every state in the United States and more than 100 countries. Wichita State and WSU Tech are recognized for being student-centered and innovation-driven.
Located in the largest city in the state with one of the highest concentrations in the United States of jobs involving science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), Wichita State University offers uniquely distinctive and innovative pathways to applied learning, applied research and career opportunities for all our students.
A physical extension of Wichita State University’s main campus, the Innovation Campus is one of the nation’s largest and fastest-growing research/innovation parks, encompassing over 120 acres and home to a number of global companies and organizations.
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