Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Sgt. Jeff Johnston a fire arms supervisor with the Gwinnett County Police Department shoots a Glock 17 9mm handgun during a Shooting Reconstruction course presented by the Forensic Training Foundation at the GCPD Training Academy in Lawrenceville on Tuesday. The course which is held from Feb 11 -15 has 27 participants from law enforcement agencies in Georgia, Tennessee, Florida, Kentucky and Kansas; including six participants from GCPD.
Shooting Reconstruction Course for Law Enforcement
The Gwinnett County Police Department hosts a Shooting Reconstruction course presented by the Forensic Training Foundation at the GCPD Training Academy in Lawrenceville on Tuesday. The course which was held from Feb 11 -15 has 28 participants from over 12 law enforcement agencies; including six participants from GCPD.
LAWRENCEVILLE -- An aging maroon Saturn succumbed to several bullet wounds Tuesday inside a Gwinnett County Police Department shooting range, unwillingly sacrificing its life in the name of training and future justice.
GCPD is hosting representatives from law enforcement agencies around the metro area, Tennessee, Florida and Kansas this week as part of an in-depth shooting reconstruction and forensic investigation course. With scholarships paid for by best-selling crime novelist Patricia Cornwell (an enthusiastic law enforcement philanthropist), Cumming-based Forensic Training Source is leading 28 participants in the week-long class.
The Saturn sedan was sacrificed earlier this week so crime scene analysts could get a better, hands-on look at the effect of bullets on different materials at different trajectories, a crucial part of the job.
"Instead of just hearing about it and seeing demonstrations and watching videos, they actually get to come out and observe the physics and the dynamics of a shooting scene," said Nathan Lefebvre, owner of Forensic Training Source. "Hands-on training is what really translates into success."
Throughout the week, authorities from metro Atlanta -- including Gwinnett and Lawrenceville PDs, as well as Winder, Forsyth, Milton, Roswell, Baldwin and Johns Creek -- and around the country are getting in-depth , top-notch training.
Mixed in with a healthy dose of lectures, the participants will have covered topics throughout the week ranging from ballistics and projectile behavior to flight path reconstruction, report writing and courtroom testimony.
"The thing about crime scenes is there's so many aspects," said Jeff Branyon, Gwinnett police's CSI manager. "There's blood stain analysis, there's DNA collection, there's diagramming, there's photography. There's all these various elements and this is just one specific element. You kind of have to be an expert in everything."
The two main specialists teaching the week's classes are retired New Jersey State Police officers, Lefebvre said.
Cornwell, known primarily for her series of Kay Scarpetta crime novels, has contributed millions of dollars toward the advancement of law enforcement. In addition to sponsoring scholarships for programs like the one this week, she has also made large contributions to the University of Tennessee's National Forensics Academy and the John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
Branyon said the extra monetary help is always appreciated.
"Ultimately we're the finders of the facts, that's our job," Branyon said. "So that when we put a case together and roll it into a courtroom, the judge, the jury, the attorneys, they expect evidence and they expect to know accurate information. This is how you learn how to give that."
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