Clinic Spotlight: Brooklyn Prosecution Ballistics Tour
Students in Touro Law’s Brooklyn Prosecution Clinic visited the New York Police Department Forensics Investigations Division in Jamaica, Queens. They had the opportunity to tour NYPD facilities and laboratories.
“The students had the chance to see how integral science is to accurate prosecution and, to that extent, how different fields of scientific testing can be incorporated into the practice of criminal law. This tour was about the utilization of forensics and specifically, enhancing criminal investigations through scientific testing. With actual litigation in mind, we took a real-life, hands-on approach to practice. The team at the police lab was very professional and knowledgeable and we thank the New York Police Department for this opportunity,” stated Michael Boykin, Adjunct Professor in the Criminal Prosecution Clinic.
Following an earlier tour of the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Digital Evidence Lab, the students toured the NYPD Criminalistics Section.
The tour led them to the Gunshot Residue Testing site and the Trace Recognition Department. In their studies, students have learned about the testing of tape residue, and how to test for general unknown substances. The students even learned about footwear impression analysis, clothing testing, alternate light sources, chemical and fiber testing, glass and refractive index analysis, and gas chromatography.
Next, they toured the Firearms Analysis section, where actual firearm and ballistic testing is conducted. They were even able to see the firearm range and ballistic recovery tank. The students went to the Serial Restoration Department and learned about the metallurgy of firearms and the different methods of tracking firearms, including serial numbers, lead seals, and even QR codes. The students even had a hands-on tour of the firearms reference library.
Their tour then took them to the Microscopy section, where they saw analysts studying the striations and imperfections of ballistics. They had the opportunity to learn how they can use this evidence to match fired bullets to known firearms.
In addition, the students toured the Chemical Analysis Section. This included the Controlled Substance Analysis Laboratory, which examines items for the presence of narcotics. Students saw some of the X-ray machines and other devices used to analyze the actual composition of materials.
In addition, they toured the Forensics Department, which included paint analysis, often used to identify vehicles in hit-and-run accidents, as well as the new Virtual Microscopy Hardware Section, as well as the Handwriting Analysis and Latent Prints Sections.
They ended their tour with the museum and gallery, where they saw many infamous weapons, including the firearm used by Mark David Chapman in the murder of Beatles star John Lennon, the firearm used by David Berkowitz (a.k.a. Son of Sam), the bazooka rocket launcher used during the attack of the United Nations, and even a stinger missile.
This class toured the Kings County District Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn, NY earlier in the semester. There they spent time in the digital lab, learning about 3D printers and 3D printed firearms, devices to extract cell phones, and were able to see and discuss digital evidence.