New Lubbock DPS Crime Lab - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

12/10/04

New Lubbock DPS Crime Lab

Lubbock is home to one of only 13 Department of Public Safety crime laboratories in the state, and the Lubbock lab tests evidence from 90 West Texas counties.

These forensic scientists have thousands of dollars worth of toys that help solve crimes from as far away as El Paso. Such settings now make for popular TV shows, but there's a big difference between reality and TV.

"Oh, I love my job. They pay me to shoot stuff and you're actually having an immediate impact on the community", said Aaron Fullerton, DPS Criminalist.

The first crime lab tested only drugs and blood alcohol. Lubbock scientists can now take a closer look and test DNA and ballistics. Fullerton can take a picture of a bullet, store it in a database, and compare it to others all across the country.

"An aggravated assault and a drive by in Wichita Falls actually were connected together through the use of 'Nifeman'", said Fullerton.

That type of situation is what Hollywood tries to capture.

"It's kind of what we do. They try to be fairly accurate, but of course the time is way off and so are some of the instruments they use", commented Fullerton.

For example a certain machine in the lab only tells scientists what a substance is made of. It makes for a good visual, so TV uses it for everything from blood to drug testing. Then there's the time issue.

"They make it seem like it can be done in a flash, in a commercial break. Typically it takes several weeks before we get results", commented Jim Thomas, DPS Crime Lab Supervisor.

With one simple action and a positive test, scientists have the power to prove a person innocent.
Fullerton has testified over 50 times in court.

"If you're able to help someone out by exonerating them or helping a victim's family by convicting someone that's a good feeling", noted Fullerton.

That's something that TV can't capture. The DNA indexing system is one of the latest technologies used in the lab. It allows scientists to collect blood samples from sex offenders, and enter it into a database. This allows crime labs across the country to retrieve the information.

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