Optimizing Ballistic Imaging Operations
Ballistic imaging systems can help solve crimes by comparing images of cartridge cases, which are recovered from a crime scene or test-fired from a gun, to a database of images obtained from past crime scenes. Many U.S. municipalities lack the resources to process all of their cartridge cases. Using data from Stockton, CA, we analyze two problems: how to allocate limited capacity to maximize the number of cartridge cases that generate at least one hit, and how to prioritize the cartridge cases that are processed to maximize the usefulness (i.e., obtained before the corresponding criminal case is closed) of hits. The number of hits can be significantly increased by prioritizing crime scene evidence over test-fires, and by ranking calibers by their hit probability and processing only the higher ranking calibers. We also estimate that last-come first-served increases the proportion of hits that are useful by only 0.05 relative to first-come first-served.