New Charleston Police forensic services facility expediting investigations

Updated: Mar. 3, 2021 at 5:33 PM EST
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The Charleston Police Department has a new $12.4 million facility in West Ashley dedicated to forensic services.

The City of Charleston funded the facility, which consolidated Charleston Police Forensic Service Division efforts in the city. Investigators were previously working out of three different locations.

The groundbreaking for the new building took place in October of 2019. Its completion means those different locations are all under one roof on Bees Ferry Road.

Forensic Service Director Judy Gordon says this new building along with their new technology and resources will help them solve crimes faster.

“Even after a few weeks it’s made a big difference in our efficiency and our effectiveness by consolidating everybody into one facility,” Gordon said. “It provides us with additional space, resources, technology, in order to get results out faster.”

The forensic laboratory performs crime scene processing and evidence examination.

“Results of forensic examinations and laboratory results are really not useful unless they’re timely,” Gordon said. “It’s important that we’re able to provide as much information as we can, as fast as we can, in order to help investigators solve crimes and to get answers to victims of crime and to just keep our community safer.”

The forensic lab provides range of services including drug analysis, examination of fire debris and digital media, forensic video analysis, body fluid and fingerprint identification.

The Visual Services Director, Jim Mossman, says has enjoyed being in the new building. He says he can now walk down the hall to his co-workers versus driving to a separate facility.

“Things are a lot easier as far as collaboration, being able to go talk to the other divisions with the forensic services department,” Mossman said. “I do some things for crime scene as far as helping them manage their crime scene photo database.”

The other buildings they formerly worked from also were not as updated.

“We’ve always been in an older facility... we periodically have roof leak issues or plumbing issues or whatever,” Mossman said. “So this is a very nice facility and we’re all very excited to be here and certainly proud of it.”

Gordon says the new facility will allow them to add more services including DNA analysis and to become a firearms examination center.

Right now, the state law enforcement lab provides DNA analysis for law enforcement agencies across the state. However, with the addition of those services in Charleston it will allow the analysis to take place in-house.

Gordon says the forensic division is planning to become part of the National Integrate Ballistic Information Network, known as NIBIN. She says NIBIN is a database for firearm cartridge cases.

Through the database, the police department can connect the cartridge cases to firearms and crimes which can help connect crimes to one another. While the division has used the technology under another agency, having their own direct access will allow them to set their own priorities.

The Forensic Services Division is accredited by the American National Standards Institute National Accreditation Board.

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