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.”

Text Only
Local News
  • 140415-water003.jpg Sewage problems persist

    Early Tuesday morning, Valdosta became saturated when the area received approximately three inches of rain from 4 a.m. to noon. As of 3 p.m. Tuesday, 11 manholes throughout the City of Valdosta have spilled 286,500 gallons of wastewater into local waterways, and this number will continue to rise.

    April 16, 2014 2 Photos

  • vsuopera1dido.jpg Operatic Conclusion

    When the curtain lowers this weekend on Valdosta State University Opera’s performance of Henry Purcell’s “Dido and Aeneas,” it will not only mark the end of the music group’s season.

    April 16, 2014 2 Photos

  • ‘If I Were Mayor’ contest essays

    If I were mayor, I would do all that I possibly can to make the city of Valdosta marvelous, but I cannot do it on my own. Some things in Valdosta I feel it is necessary to focus on would be our literacy rate, unemployment rate, crime history, and our environment.

    April 16, 2014

  • APTOPIX Boston Marath_Stew.jpg Solemn tributes mark Boston Marathon bombing

    Survivors, first responders and relatives of those killed in the Boston Marathon bombing marked the anniversary Tuesday with tributes that combined sorrow over the loss of innocent victims with pride over the city’s resilience in the face of a terror attack.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140414-valdostaboe001 copy.jpg Valdosta Board of Education reviews finances

    Valdosta City Schools Board of Education celebrated many successes Monday night, discussed budget information and heard an announcement of intent from a hopeful charter school.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • dancing with the stars copy.jpg Dancing with Valdosta Stars raises scholarship money

    Valdosta State University Music and Theatre & Dance’s Third Annual Dancing with the Stars of Valdosta presented a fine dance show this past weekend.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • N0041120.jpg Passover: A nation reborn

    “And you shall tell your children that on that day the Lord has took you out from the house of bondage.” — The Passover Hagadah

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140414-DFCS001.jpg Luncheon recognizes DFACS employees

    Dozens of Lowndes County Division of Family and Children Services employees gathered Monday at Olympic Park for a barbecue lunch in recognition of their hard work.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140414-Sewage002.jpg Fla. calls for Valdosta boycott

    Florida residents are calling for a boycott of Valdosta regarding the sewage spills, with areas affected downstream increasingly distressed over the millions of gallons that have polluted the waters of the Withlacoochee and the Suwannee River Basin during the last several years.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • police-lights-backgrounds-for-powerpoint.jpg ‘Dangerous’ fugitive caught

    A fugitive from Ohio wanted for attempted murder and a number of assault and robbery charges was captured by Valdosta police Saturday.

    April 14, 2014 2 Photos

Top News

What you think about school and workplace rules about Facebook friends?

There have to be rules.
No need for rules, just use common sense.
If people want to be friends, what is the big deal?
Nobody uses Facebook anymore.
     View Results