An inside-out approach to solving more gun crime

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90 crime fighters learn key tasks at URI workshop to make evidence count

KINGSTON, R.I. – March 25, 2011 – A 30-year law enforcement veteran told police, prosecutors, public defenders and federal agents Wednesday that “balancing people, processes and technology” is the best way to overcoming obstacles and gaps during investigations involving gun crimes.

Peter Gagliardi, senior vice president of Forensic Technology Inc. of Quebec, Canada, discussed his “13 Critical Tasks” to solving gun crimes with 90 members of the law enforcement community during a workshop hosted by the Rhode Island State Crime Laboratory at the University of Rhode Island.

Gagliardi, who got his start as a New Haven (Conn.) Housing Authority policeman, spent 24 years with the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, retiring in 1999 from his post as special agent in charge of the New York Field Division to join Forensic Technology Inc. and head the company’s law enforcement communication initiatives. The company invented and manufactures the Integrated Ballistics Identification System, which is used by crime labs like Rhode Island’s to upload gun information to a database.

That information is shared through a network called the National Integrated Ballistics Information Network. The bureau funds the IBIS computer-microscope systems in crime labs across the country and maintains the NIBIN network.

“My job in the projects of New Haven was the best job I ever had because that’s where I learned about people,” Gagliardi said. But during his time with the ATF, he learned about the importance of innovation, processes and technology across federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. He also learned that every piece of evidence in a gun crime is important. He said he has represented Forensic Technology Inc. in 70 countries.

“When you are investigating a bomb scene, you never ignore the hole caused by the blast,” Gagliardi said. “But at a gun crime scene, we often ignore the ballistics evidence. If we ignore that, we may cross a bridge that we may not be able to go back to.”

His talk focused on gun crimes committed by individuals ranging in age from 15 years old to 30 because they usually involve some other criminal activity, such as drug dealing, prostitution, human trafficking and gang related activity. “This crime is usually repetitive and retaliatory in nature,” he said.

“Criminals move and evidence moves, and we have to examine how guns cross multiple jurisdictions,” Gagliardi said.

He talked about a Boston-based case, during which a weapon was used 14 times, including 3 times in Randolph and Brockton, Mass. and in Providence.

He said technology is a tremendous tool in helping different law enforcement agencies, whether they are federal, state, or local, connect with each other and share gun evidence. But he said that if a gun is seized in Providence and the evidence information is never entered into the IBIS and NIBIN systems, that seizure is not going to help the Boston cop solve a crime committed in his city with the same weapon.

As Gagliardi displayed two maps of New England during his power point presentation, he asked the audience to determine whether the travel of weapons occurs primarily within Rhode Island’s borders or throughout New England. Several answered that Boston is an important link, but they emphasized that New York also has a strong link to Rhode Island.

Each participant received a certificate for completing the workshop and Gagliardi’s book, The 13 Critical Tasks, An Inside-Out Approach to Solving More Gun Crime.