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Bullet Proof: The Old Way Compared with the New Way

NCJ Number
Evidence Technology Magazine Volume: 2 Issue: 2 Dated: April 2004 Pages: 22-23
Kristi Mayo
Date Published
April 2004
2 pages
This article describes new technology that preserves the forensic value of test-fired projectiles.
The Integrated Ballistic Identification System (IBIS) gives law enforcement the ability to compare firearms evidence from crimes committed almost anywhere in the United States. Comparison of a fired bullet is easier to make if a complete sample is recovered after testing, yet many methods of projectile recovery actually destroy or damage a bullet, leaving examiners with only fragments or distorted rounds. A new technology, the Duke Projectile Recovery System (DPRS) has been developed by Ballistics Research, Inc., and was recently purchased by the Memphis, TN, Police Department. The system is a large, rectangular-shaped steel box with NIJ Level III-A armor plating on the front and rear blast plates to prevent blow-throughs. The box is mounted on casters for portability and comes in four basic models, from the low-volume handgun unit to the medium-to-high caliber rifle unit. To capture the projectile inside the box, two specialized materials are sandwiched together in a series of alternating layers. One material has a very specific compression ratio, while the other is a very special blend of fibers that actually encapsulate and protect the bullet. These materials form a cocoon around the projectile which protects it from the abrasion of the denser material that is intended to slow it to a complete stop. As with older methods of stopping projectiles, this abrasion erases or damages the lands, grooves, and striations that are needed for comparison and identification under the microscope. With the DPRS however, the fibrous cocoon even preserves the powder residues on the bullet. After test firing, the bullet can be recovered by hand. The head of the Firearms Training Unit for the Memphis Police Department has said that his agency has benefited from the use of the DPRS due to is ability to protect the test-fired bullets, as well as its portability.