Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Sandia Gun Residue Detection Technique Will Help Police ID Shooters Right At The Crime Scene

Date:
February 14, 2002
Source:
Sandia National Laboratories
Summary:
Explosives experts at the U.S. Department of Energy's Sandia National Laboratories, working with a Colorado company, have come up with a technique that will help police officers at a crime scene quickly narrow the list of suspects in a shooting to those who have recently fired a gun.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Explosives experts at the U.S. Department of Energy's Sandia National Laboratories, working with a Colorado company, have come up with a technique that will help police officers at a crime scene quickly narrow the list of suspects in a shooting to those who have recently fired a gun.

"Police don't have anything today that can tell them instantly whether someone has fired a gun or not," says Greg MacAleese, CEO of Law Enforcement Technologies, Inc. (LET) of Colorado Springs. "The speed in being able to focus on a more limited array of suspects is really critical to law enforcement's ability to solve a crime. The faster we are able to ID them, the more likely we are to convict them."

Whenever a gun is fired, the shooter gets sprayed with an invisible blast of chemical residues that are byproducts of the incomplete combustion of gunpowder, primer, and lubricants. The Sandia-LET gunshot residue detection technique identifies very small amounts of these chemical clues on a person's hands, arms, or clothing.

"With this technique a police officer could swab somebody right at the crime scene and have a reading in seconds," says Sandia principal investigator Pam Walker. LET licensed from Sandia the chemical detection technique that makes the kits possible. The company is marketing the kits under the name "Instant Shooter ID Kit."

The first 2,000 gunshot residue detection kits are being tested with police departments in New York state and the Los Angeles, San Diego, and Phoenix metro areas beginning this month, says MacAleese.

Chemical clues

In laboratory and live-fire trials at Sandia the technique was effective in determining if someone had recently fired a gun, regardless of whether the shooter had washed his or her hands after the shooting. Various gun and ammunition types were used.

Each LET gun residue detection kit includes a round fiberglass swab that can be rubbed on the hands, arms, or clothing of someone suspected of firing a gun. The police officer places the dry swab into a small plastic cube, pushes a plunger button on the lid that breaks a vial inside the cube to release a clear liquid, which soaks the swab.

If gun residue is present, spots where trace amounts of organic residues are present turn blue against the white swab, typically in 40 to 60 seconds.

"We routinely do trace detection of explosives in the lab," says Walker, "so we thought why not take this technique and make it a product that can help keep our streets safer."

Roughly the size of a cassette tape, each LET kit should cost less than $20, according to MacAleese.

"We'd like to see these kits not only in every forensics lab and violent crime unit but also in every squad car in the country," he says.

Positive results from the kits could be used to influence a suspect to confess or to implicate other suspects. In addition, the same swab used at the scene can be sent to a forensics lab for additional chemical analyses, the results of which could be used as evidence in court, he says.

First 72 hours

Police officers investigate some 13,000 firearm homicides in the United States every year, and approximately 40,000 patients with gunshot wounds resulting from assault are treated in U.S. emergency rooms annually, according to 1997 statistics from the U.S. Department of Justice.

Detectives know that the first 72 hours are the most critical time for the successful investigation of a crime, says MacAleese. Every minute a shooter stays out of police custody is a minute he or she can spend destroying evidence, establishing alibis, or leaving town, he says.

Prior to founding LET MacAleese worked in law enforcement for 14 years. While at the Albuquerque Police Department as a violent crime detective, he pioneered the CrimeStoppers program, now an international program in more than 1,000 communities worldwide.

Sandia is a multiprogram laboratory operated by Sandia Corporation, a Lockheed Martin company, for the U.S. Department of Energy. With main facilities in Albuquerque, N.M., and Livermore, Calif., Sandia has major R&D responsibilities in national security, energy and environmental technologies, and economic competitiveness.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Sandia National Laboratories. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Sandia National Laboratories. "Sandia Gun Residue Detection Technique Will Help Police ID Shooters Right At The Crime Scene." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 February 2002. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/02/020214080016.htm>.
Sandia National Laboratories. (2002, February 14). Sandia Gun Residue Detection Technique Will Help Police ID Shooters Right At The Crime Scene. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/02/020214080016.htm
Sandia National Laboratories. "Sandia Gun Residue Detection Technique Will Help Police ID Shooters Right At The Crime Scene." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/02/020214080016.htm (accessed August 22, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Friday, August 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Former TSA X-Ray Scanners Easily Tricked To Miss Weapons

Former TSA X-Ray Scanners Easily Tricked To Miss Weapons

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) Researchers found the scanners could be duped simply by placing a weapon off to the side of the body or encasing it under a plastic shield. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Flower Power! Dandelions Make Car Tires?

Flower Power! Dandelions Make Car Tires?

Reuters - Business Video Online (Aug. 20, 2014) Forget rolling on rubber, could car drivers soon be traveling on tires made from dandelions? Teams of scientists are racing to breed a type of the yellow flower whose taproot has a milky fluid with tire-grade rubber particles in it. As Joanna Partridge reports, global tire makers are investing millions in research into a new tire source. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Awesome New Camouflage Sheet Was Inspired By Octopus Skin

Awesome New Camouflage Sheet Was Inspired By Octopus Skin

Newsy (Aug. 19, 2014) Scientists have developed a new device that mimics the way octopuses blend in with their surroundings to hide from dangerous predators. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

AP (Aug. 19, 2014) Four Texas high school football programs are trying out an experimental system designed to diagnose concussions on the field. The technology is in response to growing concern over head trauma in America's most watched sport. (Aug. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins