Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

May 8, 2013

Crime Lab takes aim at ballistics

VALDOSTA — The Valdosta-Lowndes Regional Crime Laboratory now has the ability to fully analyze firearms in-house.

Announced Tuesday morning, it is the latest laboratory upgrade, coming roughly two weeks after unveiling the facility's chemical isolation capabilities.

No longer will the lab require an outside consultant to conduct parallel cartridge and bullet casing analysis, said Lt. Shannon Salter, who's been with the lab for several years and earned her ballistics training from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearm and Explosives academy in 2001.

“Not only do we work city and county cases, but we work cases from pretty much any agency that submits a case to us,” said Salter. “Now, we can do firearms analysis completely in-house and work double the cases.”

Like Salter, Criminalist Stephen Chammoun has completed his training with the ATF's National Firearms Examiner's Academy and now the two criminal scientists can peer-review each other's work.

“I was pretty excited,” said Chammoun. “I don't know how many applicants they had. But the National Firearms Examiner's Academy only select 12 applicants a year, and that's if they have the funding that year to do it because the ATF invests a lot of money and effort into this program to make sure they're training their firearms examiners and tool-mark experts properly.”

The ballistics results are recorded into the ATF’s National Integrated Ballistics Info Network after testing is completed, said Crime Lab Director Barry Funck. To ensure the accuracy of the lab’s NIBIN entries, Salter and Chammoun peer-review each other's work by conducting separate studies, Chammoun said.

“We do the work independently, then another examiner looks at it – and that doesn't rule out another examiner looking at it after that,” said Chammoun. “In school, we're taught that these guns are individual and we learn how they're constructed. We learn how they start with a block of metal and make a firearm, with all of the machining processes filled in between. Basically, you follow the scientific process to reach a conclusion.”

With two experts in gun ballistics in-house, Valdosta Police Chief Brian Childress said the lab has fulfilled analysis requests well under the three to six months normally expected of the backlogged Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

“If we say we've arrested a guy and we believe this gun was used, they may come back and say no it wasn't,” said Childress. “But we still win, because at the end of the day you want to be fair to everybody. That's fair to the judicial system - it speeds up the process. It's fair to the taxpayers, and it's certainly fair to the  defendants. And more importantly than anything, it's fair to the victims.”

Childress described the lab as being “two deep” on all of its abilities including ballistics, fingerprinting and chemical analysis. But he and other crime lab officials would like to be reinforced with three of everything, the chief said.

“At some point, if we can get some financial assistance form other agencies, (Crime Lab Director Barry Funck), the sheriff and I would like to go three deep on everything here,” said Childress. “I had this conversation with the city manager a week ago. We have no backlog on fingerprints, none, and I think we're caught up on NIBEN entries. A lot of labs can't say that. That's a credit to Barry and his folks. The proof's in the pudding.”

1
Text Only
Local News
  • 140421 - flooding Shiloh Rd B#1.jpg Road re-opens following flooding

    Lowndes County officials re-opened one road Monday while keeping an eye on the area’s waterways for potential flooding.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Justice_Scales.jpg Second ‘Quitman 11’ case mistrial

    Another week-long trial ended again in mistrial last week in the case of Lula Smart, the Brooks County woman charged in a case of unlawful possession of election ballots, according to court officials Monday.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • graphic.jpg School systems get report cards

    South Georgia school systems received mixed results, with some showing performance increases while others suffered decreases, in the College and Career Ready Performance Index released Monday by Georgia State School Superintendent Dr. John Barge.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • flood4c.jpg Flood warning extended

    A flood warning for the Withlacoochee River at Valdosta has been extended until Wednesday afternoon.

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • doug henderson.jpg Memorial tourney returns

    The Doug Henderson III Memorial Golf Tournament has raised thousands of dollars for scholarship funds and to help organizations throughout the region.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • 041914-WA-Egghunt021.jpg Park puts wild spin on Easter tradition

    Adventurous egg hunters braved overcast skies and a persistent drizzle to search for hidden prizes Saturday during Wild Adventure’s first Ostrich Egg Hunt.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • FallenTree003.JPG More spills reported

    City of Valdosta employees have spent the weekend responding to spills caused by several inches of rain that have again drenched the city during the past few days.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Underwater Easter_Rich copy.jpg Stories behind ‘The Greatest Story Ever Told’

    Christ comes from the Greek word, “Christos,” meaning “the anointed one.”

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140418_valwood001.jpg Valwood students register to vote

    Valwood teaches its students about the importance of voting. Each year, the school has encouraged eligible seniors to register to vote and participate in local elections.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • wadebrandon14.jpg Police still seeking missing mother, son

    Though their assignments have changed during the past dozen years, Valdosta Police Capt. Bobbi McGraw and Sgt. Chris Crews continue working the case of a missing mother and her son.

    April 19, 2014 3 Photos

Top News
Poll

Given the amount of rain recently, what's your favorite “rain” song?

Singing in the Rain
Purple Rain
Have You Ever Seen the Rain?
November Rain
Rainy Night in Georgia
Other
     View Results