ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — On May 2, United States Attorney Chris Kavanaugh partnered with local and state law enforcement to announce they are bringing a National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN) van to the Southwest Virginia Region.

“This technology is a vital part to any violent crime reduction strategy, where that strategy is built on forensics and data,” said Kavanaugh.

The NIBIN van gives law enforcement the ability to test bullet casings found at local crime scenes against national databases and make rapid connections to other known crimes and suspects around the country.

On Friday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office confirmed to News Channel 11 that the NIBIN van will be used in all areas of Southwest Virginia, as far as Scott and Buchanan counties.

“It could show us in certain neighborhoods, where cartridge cases have been recovered a different day in a specific region. If you’re looking at a crime map, and seeing that the spiral arms are linked, or the cartridge cases have been linked to the same firearm based on the individual marks on the cartridge cases,” said Walter A. Dandridge Jr., Forensic Firearms and Toolmark Examiner and Section Chief for the NIBIN Unit for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms.

The casings are loaded into a machine on the van which develops images and then uploaded into the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms database where it is compared with other pictures. Agents say it’s a process that takes just a few hours.

“That’s a huge investigative lead for the investigators, so we don’t have nine different shooters. We have one shooter who has fired nine different times on nine different days,” said Dandridge.

U.S. Attorney Kavanaugh also touched on this when his office announced last year that they are prosecuting any cases involving guns that were fired during or in connection with a federal offense. Kavanaugh says they have seen and are projecting a 63% increase in the number of violent crimes being prosecuted in federal court in the Western District of Virginia. They are also working to prevent the triggers from being pulled in the first place.

“The result of that emphasis we have also seen here at home the number of prosecutions in federal court with to respect to Firearms here in our district have almost tripled they are up 193%,” said Kavanaugh.

Local law enforcement agencies also talked about how this system has already helped them solve gun violence crimes. They also said the Virginia State Police’s Salem office is in the process of getting similar equipment to allow for more resources and access.