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 Laboratory at WSU.
The forensic laboratory is a new $75 million facility that will complement the Gun Crime Intelligence Center of Excellence (GCIC) and National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN) Correlation and Training Center (NNCTC II), which were announced last summer.
“The reason that 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,” said Dettelbach.
The forensic laboratory will utilize the latest in DNA processing of firearms and ballistic evidence, adding an additional 100 jobs for students and full-time staff, on top of the 200 jobs expected with the addition of the NNCTC II.
“This is going to be an expansive undertaking with our academic partners to be able to assess how law enforcement worldwide investigate violent crime,” said Dettelbach. “The power of the ideas that will come out of this campus… is limitless for the future. It really is truly a game-changer.”
“This announcement portends new opportunities for students in the era of digital transformation that marries criminal justice and forensic science 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 facing law enforcement in combating gun crime and evolve crime gun intelligence strategies for law enforcement agencies locally and across the nation.”
Understanding the importance of crime gun intelligence
Dettelbach said crime gun intelligence is essential to solving and preventing firearm crimes. He described crime gun intelligence as using the most advanced evidence-gathering techniques in the world to investigate everything on the inside and outside – and everything ejected from the front and back – of the weapon to assist with apprehension.
The NNCTC II will increase ATF’s current capacity to support local, territorial, tribal, state, federal and international law enforcement agencies, ensuring quick turnaround time and providing detectives with the leads they need within hours.
“If NIBIN helps us to catch the shooters, then this DNA actually slams the prison door shut,” said Dettelbach. “Now we need to build up the capacity to process the evidence timely for local law enforcement, for those same detectives, and that’s going to happen right here at Wichita State University.”
Developing new curriculum
Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) Director Karhlton F. Moore further detailed BJA’s commitment to supporting NIBIN and crime gun intelligence efforts at WSU.
BJA recently awarded WSU a $1.3 million grant to create a national model for advancing gun crime tactics and strategy for current and future generations of modern violent crime fighters, in conjunction with ATF efforts.
The funding allows WSU to create new curriculum for students, specifically focused on preparing them to address violent crime through the development and use of crime gun intelligence and other emerging investigative technologies.
This new curriculum will provide Wichita State students with knowledge of and experience using the most advanced techniques in the collection, processing, and investigative use of crime gun intelligence as part of a holistic violent crime reduction strategy.
“Those students who graduate with that knowledge and understanding will be in demand,” said Moore.
“Our students will be thoroughly prepared for careers in public safety, investigations, and law enforcement through applied learning experiences that teach them to process evidence, generate intelligence, and give them advanced education and hands-on training in the field of 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 propel the next leap forward in crime gun intelligence concepts, theory, and strategy – working nationwide with law enforcement. The course offerings will be developed in collaboration with the WSU and ATF.
“This is particularly important right now – at a time when police departments across the country are struggling to recruit officers,” said Moore. “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 innovation and strategy for gun and violent crime,” said Brewer. “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 law enforcement and forensics relating to violent crime.”
“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 crime is being investigated across the country, I can hear this phrase that will be said by the country sheriff or trooper or detective: ‘We have to get this to Wichita,’” said Moran. “I like the thought that crime is being fought in the largest city of our state, and we’re helping the rest of the country accomplish that.”
About Wichita State University
Wichita State University is Kansas' only urban public research university, enrolling almost 22,000 students between its main campus and WSU Tech, including students from every state in the U.S. 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 math (STEM), Wichita State University provides uniquely distinctive and innovative pathways of applied learning, applied research and career opportunities for all of our students.
The Innovation Campus, which is a physical extension of the Wichita State University main campus, is one of the nation’s largest and fastest-growing research/innovation parks, encompassing over 120 acres and is home to a number of global companies and organizations.