LONDON, Ohio — On Thursday, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, and Ohio State Highway Patrol Superintendent Col. Richard Fambro announced a joint criminal justice initiative to help local law enforcement identify criminals responsible for deadly shootings and other incidents of gun violence in Ohio.
As part of the new Ohio Ballistics Testing Initiative, the Ohio Department of Public Safety’s Office of Criminal Justice Services will award a total of $10.5 million to the Ohio Attorney General's Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) and Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP) to increase the number of National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN) units in Ohio from seven to 16.
Of the $10.5 million in funding, the Ohio Attorney General's Office will receive $9.2 million to place five new NIBIN machines at BCI’s state crime labs in Richfield, as well as London and Bowling Green.
According to DeWine's office, the joint initiative will provide more opportunities for law enforcement to submit firearm evidence for scientific analysis, while simultaneously decreasing turnaround time on testing results.
“We must do more to hold accountable the small number of dangerous criminals who are responsible for most of the gun violence in our state -- the convicted felons who have lost their right to possess firearms, yet they continue to carry and use guns to hurt and kill people,” said DeWine in a statement. “By more than doubling the number of NIBIN units in Ohio, we’ll give our local law enforcement partners easier access to this crime-solving technology to help develop investigative leads that result in arrests. With the help of this initiative, we are confident that more gunmen will be brought to justice, future shootings will be prevented, and lives will be saved."
The grants awarded today are funded through the American Recovery Plan Act (ARPA).
Yost began Thursday's events with comments about the death of a Bluffton police officer that happened earlier on Thursday. Officer Dominic Francis was killed during a pursuit that started in Northwest Ohio before coming to an end in Lorain County. You can watch his remarks in the video below.
"Fran and I are sad to learn of the death of Bluffton Police Officer Dominic Francis, who tragically died today after being hit by a fleeing driver. We are grateful to him for his selfless service to Ohio, and our hearts go out to his family and his colleagues at the Bluffton PD," DeWine tweeted on Thursday.
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The Hancock County Sheriff's Department said officer Dominic Francis was fatally struck along I-75 near exit 142 by the suspect's vehicle while attempting to deploy stop sticks.
The situation initially started in Hancock County before the pursuit concluded in Elyria on Route 57 near Chestnut Ridge Road. Three suspects have been arrested. Their names have not yet been provided.
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