The Tuscaloosa Police Department is joining the nationwide observance of National Forensic Science Week. It's purpose is dedicated to acknowledging the invaluable contributions of forensic science professionals across the country.

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Vladimir Borovic
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The Tuscaloosa Police Department recognizes the exceptional efforts and expertise of our own forensic science team," TPD said in a press release sent to Townsquare Media.

"We want to highlight the recent accomplishment of Investigator Stewart Coffee’s certification as a firearms examiner, which follows two years of rigorous training. His certification enhances the department’s ability to analyze ballistic evidence, solve complex cases and ensure the safety of our community."

Tuscaloosa Police Department
Tuscaloosa Police Department
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“Investigator Coffee’s expertise will greatly enhance our ability to swiftly and effectively investigate cases involving firearms, leading to more efficient case resolutions and success in apprehending suspects,” TPD Chief Brent Blankley said. “The work they do produces strong, scientific evidence that holds up in court, ensuring justice for violent crime victims and their families.”

Historically, evidence collected in gun crimes was transported for analysis by the Alabama Department of Forensic Science, a lengthy process slowed by frequent backlogs.

Tuscaloosa Police Department
Tuscaloosa Police Department
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“The ability to conduct these investigations in-house enables us to swiftly address and apprehend dangerous offenders,” Blankley said. Investigator Coffee is one of our staff of four analysts, three evidence technicians and support staff employees who make up TPD’s newest division. Created in 2021, the Forensic Services Division is led by director Mitch Rector, the unit’s first certified firearm examiner. Rector came to TPD with more than 30 years of experience at Birmingham Police Department and the Alabama Department of Forensic Science.

The Forensic Services Division is currently in the final stages of obtaining international accreditation, which ensures adherence to universally accepted management and examination principals that are the worldwide standard for forensic labs. TPD’s lab will be the first municipal first-responding agency in Alabama with this accreditation, and one of just a few in the Southeast.

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