Machine allows OSP forensic scientists to process ballistic evid - KPTV - FOX 12

Machine allows OSP forensic scientists to process ballistic evidence faster

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Spent bullet casings left behind at crime scenes are proving instrumental at solving violent crimes.

At the Oregon State Police forensics lab in Clackamas, forensic scientists scan each spent shell casing sent to them by local detectives into a special machine that records a 3D digital image of it, which is then uploaded to a regional server.

The lab is one of only three evidence labs in the Northwest equipped with the sophisticated imaging equipment, which is provided by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.

The lab is part of the National Integrated Ballistics Information Network, or IBIS.

"It takes that image, converts it to a numerical algorithm, and compares that algorithm to everything that's already stored in the database," said Trevor Gover, a forensic scientist with OSP.

Gover said each shell casing has unique markings left by the gun from which it was fired.  

Each gun leaves its own individual marks on casing, and when investigators recover a firearm either during a traffic stop or the execution of a warrant, it can be positively linked to shell casings recovered in other investigations.

"All of a sudden, we get information like this and, hey, these four cases from the last two years are potentially linked to this gun," said Gover.

In the past year, the system has improved, allowing Gover and other forensic investigators to process evidence faster.

Where it once took three to five months to get ballistics evidence back to a detective, the lab now turns it around in five days.

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