A specialized law enforcement unit that helps solve gun crimes in the Garden State has earned a prestigious national accreditation.

The New Jersey State Police Ballistics Unit has been recognized by the American Association for Laboratory Accreditation following a two-year evaluation procession. This marks the first time a ballistics lab in the Garden State has been accredited.

“The accreditation will probably help the Unit secure federal grant money going forward and it’s really going to help other law enforcement agencies that we serve, it helps the community,” said Detective Sgt. Chris Clayton, the assistant director of the unit.

He said the work done by the unit is important because it can "ultimately impact the outcome of someone’s innocence or guilt.”

The unit can identify or rule out a murder weapon by examining marks on bullets and cartridge cases.

He said the work done by the ballistics unit also can provide investigative leads through the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network.

"At times we can tell you the number of guns that were involved in a shooting, we determine the possible make and model of firearms and we can also do a cross-compare to see if unrelated crimes are potentially related.”

They also test firearms, restore serial numbers that criminals tried to remove from a firearm and testify in court.

The unit has eight full-time trained ballistics workers and several part-time former unit members who assist on cases.

Some of the requirements necessary for accreditation:

  • Technical and administrative review of reports and supporting records
  • Written procedures for evidence (security, control, handling)
  • Testimony monitoring
  • Technical procedures (firearms operability, toolmarks, serial number restoration)
  • Training program (training manual with goals and objectives)
  • Proficiency testing
  • Corrective and preventative action process

The accreditation has been endorsed by the National Commission of Forensic Science, which is committed to ensuring reliable and scientifically valid evidence is utilized when solving crimes.

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