Syracuse (WSYR-TV) -- In recent weeks, there’s been a rash of gun violence in Syracuse. Now, there’s a new push in Washington to fund forensic technology that helps solve those crimes.
Senator Kristen Gillibrand is backing a $1-million Federal grant to buy a scanning electronic microscope that's used to analyze gunshot residue.
The residue is left behind when a gun is fired, and it can be key in solving a crime. Finding this trace of evidence can link a suspect to the crime.
“Gunshot residue analysis is a forensic tool, which can only benefit the community,” said Forensic Detective Terrence McGinn with the Syracuse Police Department. "When we are able to answer the questions regarding fire arms, and individuals that are involved in using those firearms, then we can make probable cause arrests and present good cases to the district attorney for prosecution."
After it's collected at the scene, the gunshot residue is sent to the lab, where it’s put into a vacuum chamber on the microscope. It's then magnified to give analysts a big picture.
SUNY ESF has been working with the Syracuse Police Department for the last 14 years, helping them piece together crime scenes by analyzing the gunshot residue. But the college’s microscope is now 40 years old.
“There are a number of cases where gunshot residue is a key component in how the case goes forward,” explained Dr. David Johnson with Suny ESF. "We need to make sure that it's going to work tomorrow, and next year and 8 years from now."
“That’s what we need. If we’re unable to prove our point in a courtroom then what good are we?" said Detective McGinn.
Police say proving that their evidence and case is solid helps convict criminals. And with the bad guys behind bars, police say we’re all safer.
Senator Gillibrand is urging the U.S. Department of Justice to fund the new equipment. SUNY ESF says if they get the new microscope, they could start processing evidence from other parts of Upstate New York like Buffalo and Rochester.