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Officer's Training Could Help GPD Cut Crime Lab Delays

12:09 AM, Dec 27, 2012   |    comments
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Greensboro, NC -- Solving complex crimes in less than an hour is the norm on the cop shows millions of people love watching every week. But in real life, crime lab delays and pain-staking evidence analysis means justice might take months or years.

The Greensboro Police Department has found a way to speed up the process, though, when it sent one of its officers through a grueling 12 months of training could help detectives and victims all over the state.

Crime Scene Investigator Karen Weimorts spent a year in an elite training program put on by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Only 12 officers in the whole country get accepted each year. She can now examine bullet cartridge casings found at crime scenes, which will save investigators time and potentially help them crack their cases.

"There are times when a cartridge casing or a bullet is the only evidence they have available," Weimorts said. "And so, it can be very critical if that is what they have to provide them leads in their investigation."

The training, which was mostly paid for by the ATF, included spending four months living in Washington, D.C. and means Weimorts is now certified to do some firearms forensics. She can compare the microscopic markings on bullets or casings to see if they match others found at a scene, or she can determine whether they match a particular gun that might've been used in a crime.

That's something GPD used to have to ship off to the SBI Crime Lab, which would mean waiting months for results. But now, Weimorts can do it. That frees up resources at the state lab for other police agencies and it will hopefully mean swifter justice for victims.

"That's just one of those things in life, it's just very rewarding," she said. "And it makes [me] go to bed at night knowing I've helped society in some way throughout my day.

"And sometimes we are really fortunate and we get cases we can really make a big impact on if we can connect two crimes."

Weimorts' training isn't just about firearms, either. She can analyze marks from tools such as bolt cutters and screw drivers, too.

GPD analyzes more than 700 firearms a year on its own, plus it helps some neighboring cities out with analysis, too.

Outside of the SBI, Weimorts is now one of only about five officers in the state who have this qualification.

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