Police in Denver are putting ballistics evidence in the hands of investigators more quickly to help solve and prevent gun crimes.

They're leading a national trend to make better use of bullet shell casings, which used to languish on the shelves of police crime labs.

The strategy is to enter crime scene evidence into the federal ballistics database within days not months, helping detectives match them to other crimes before suspects and witnesses disappear.

Milwaukee, New Orleans, Boston and other cities are making similar efforts.

Jeff Russell, the supervising agent with the federal bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms in Denver, says it's already working to get violent shooters off the streets before they reoffend.