NATIONAL LABORATORY CENTER
Science Laboratory evaluates evidence obtained in crimes involving
firearms, bombings and suspected arson incidents. Its services include:
Firearm and toolmark examinations, including examination of firearms,
comparison and identification of bullets and cartridge casings, restoration
of obliterated serial numbers, determination of firing distances,
identification of toolmarks related to bombing and arson incidents
caused by a variety of hand and machine tools, and crime scene reconstruction
in shooting incidents.
National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN) Program,
a nationwide program using the Integrated Ballistics Identification
System (IBIS). This computer system, combined with microscopy and
digital imaging, quickly searches databases for matching striations
left by a firearm on fired bullets and cartridge casings. This search
allows trained examiners to associate evidence in crimes committed
with firearms in multiple locations throughout a geographical region.
Without the system it would virtually take years to comb through evidence
in many locations and be able to identify fired ammunition components
to a particular firearm.
More explosives examinations than any laboratory in the world, including
key roles in the investigation of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing,
Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and other major criminal and industrial
explosions. Evidence collected at scenes of explosions is examined
to identify the type of explosive used and to identify all the parts
of the explosive device. Forensic chemists work closely with investigators
to find device components that will help link a suspect to the crime.
Fire Debris Analysis: The fire debris chemist's primary role is the
examination of fire debris evidence for the recovery and characterization
of any ignitable liquid residues in the debris sample. Commonly, these
residues would be from gasoline, kerosene or perhaps charcoal lighter
fluid. After the analysis is complete, the chemist generates a report
as to their findings and is subject to testifying in federal, state
and local courts as an expert witness. As an expert witness, the chemist's
role is to explain his findings to the jury and judge.
Research Laboratory (FRL), the first facility in the world dedicated
to fire scene investigations, including the ability to reconstruct
fire scenes to determine how fires begin and spread. Its services
FRL provides the necessary facilities, equipment and staff to work
on important fire investigation issues such as fire scene reconstruction,
flashover studies, validation of fire pattern analysis indicators,
impact of accelerants on fire growth and spread, ignition studies
and electrical fire cause analysis. Until the development of the FRL,
there were no fire measurement facilities in the United States, or
elsewhere, dedicated to the specific needs of the fire investigation
and Tobacco Laboratory (ATL), of the Department of the Treasury's
Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), which conducts chemical,
physical and instrumental analyses to support illicit alcohol and
tobacco trade investigations, ensures collection of taxes due and
product safety for consumers.
and nonbeverage alcohol products are analyzed to ensure that marketed
products are in compliance with Federal regulations. Beverage alcohol
products include distilled spirits, wine and malt beverages. Nonbeverage
alcohol products include food, flavorings, medicinals, toiletries,
industrial solvents and fuels. Chemical and physical analyses are
performed on tobacco products to classify them for tax purposes.
General Services Administration (GSA) commenced construction of the
NLC in August 2000 on 35-acre site in suburban Maryland. The new facility,
dedicated June 16, 2003, replaces the laboratory ATF maintained in
Rockville, Md., since 1978.
- The 176,000 square
foot building extends the length of two football fields and, in addition
to laboratory analysis space, includes areas for conferences and training,
a library, and administrative and service support functions.
- As a result of
innovative engineering and cutting-edge technology, the air and water
treatment facility incorporates the highest degree of recycling and
clean air capability.
- Final costs for
the project, including the site, design and special engineering total
addition to ATF and GSA, the project team included Higgins Development
Partners of Chicago, the Whiting-Turner Contracting Co. of Baltimore,
and the architectural firm of Kallman, McKinnell and Wood of Boston.