New high-tech center brings together investigators to solve violent crimes

Crime Gun Intelligence Center officially opens in downtown Jacksonville

By Vic Micolucci - I-TEAM reporter, anchor

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - As Jacksonville grapples with violent crime, city leaders are hoping new technology and partnerships will help lower the numbers.

So far this year, according to News4Jax records, there have been 60 homicides, 48 of which have been classified as murders.

On Tuesday, the mayor, state attorney and sheriff officially opened the Crime Gun Intelligence Center in downtown Jacksonville. It’s a place where several agencies can use new technology to build intelligence and solve shootings and murders.

Having expert investigators under one roof is already paying off. Though the center is based at the State Attorney's Office, it's not just prosecutors who are involved. They have teamed up with detectives with the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, as well as Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agents.

"When we are able to link different shootings and gather that evidence and intelligence, it enables ... us to act more quickly and disrupt and then prevent crime," State Attorney Melissa Nelson said.

Jacksonville detectives said technology helped catch a suspected serial shooter in two months. 

"This entire process took roughly 60 days," said JSO Asst. Chief Travis Cox. 

Gunshot detection from ShotSpotter and a bullet recognition database called NIBIN, the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network, were two key factors in catching 21-year-old Jamin Tolliver, who is accused of killing two men and wounding another in a two-week span.

City leaders describe it as a success story.

"This technology is tremendous in terms of building leads that will lead to a lot of closed cases in the community," Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams said. 

The Crime Gun Intelligence Center officially opened Tuesday, but the partnership has been in place for months now after the city budgeted $1 million to start the center -- a joint hub for more than 30 investigators.

"We’ve invested in the police officers. We’ve invested in NIBIN. We’ve invested in ShotSpotter," Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry said. "Now, we have a lab where we have everybody collaborating together." 

The News4Jax I-TEAM was the first to show the plans in 2017 when the I-TEAM visited the ATF and police in Denver. Leaders said they are pleased their investments are coming together. 

"We put a lot of things in play over the last couple of years and, as we mentioned during the rollout session, now it is important to let these things work for a safer community," Williams said.

Another way that city leaders are trying to cut down on crime is through the Cure Violence program. The mayor told News4Jax that will be in effect by the first week of June. The program is launching two offices in Jacksonville -- one in Northwest Jacksonville and the other on the Eastside.

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