The effort to stop gun-related crime and gun violence in Iowa is getting a shot in the arm from 124-thousand dollar federal grant. The bulk of the U.S. Department of Justice grant will help the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation enter information into its system that tracks guns used in crimes. Victor Murillo is a D-C-I criminologist who operates the system. He says the system lets them capture digital images of bullets and cartridges from crimes across the state. The images are put in a database and used to find links between crimes. Murillo says the database, which was started seven years ago, is a valuable tool in solving crime. He says it was not possible to quickly link cases together before the database without specific evidence in hand to compare. Murillo says the system called the “Integrated Ballistics Identification System” can look for links in a matter of hours. He says it takes about five minutes to scan a cartridge in, and about 15 minutes to put a bullet in. He says the information is sent to a nationwide data base, and the results can be back in about two hours. The federal funds will pay for more time for entering the information into the system and state officials are encouraging police departments across the state to send in information on gun crimes. Part of the federal grant is being doled out to the neighborhoods in the state with the most gun crimes for related projects. Charles Larson, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Iowa, says Cedar Rapids is one of the cities to get a portion of the money. He says the funds will be used for “bullet catchers” so the cartridges from guns can be sent in and entered into the system. Sioux City is getting a cut too. He says they’ll use the money to purchase sophisticated equipment to lift fingerprints. Des Moines is getting 45-thousand dollars for a outreach program in Hispanic neighborhoods. Des Moines police officer Vince Valdez will oversee the program. He says it’ll be used to inform the immigrant community about gun safety and gun violence. He says it will help those who don’t speak English to work with police and be a part of the community. Clinton, Council Bluffs, Davenport and Waterloo will also receive some of the money for projects to fight gun violence in their neighborhoods.
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