Russell County Coroner’s Office hosts first training session for state coroners and other investigators

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RUSSELL COUNTY, Ala. — Coroners, deputy coroners and other investigators converged on Russell County on Tuesday for the first training session hosted by the Russell County Coroner’s Office sponsored by the Alabama Department of Forensics.

The eight hour training session was dubbed “Forensics 101” as it covered every aspect of a death investigation from fingerprinting to toxicology. Russell County Coroner Arthur Sumbry said those in field can never have too much training.

One of the parts of the session focused on drones and how they can be used.

Firearms and Toolmark Discipline Chief, Adam Grooms flew the drone for investigators on hand. Organizers had a mock scene set up with various evidence marks on the ground, while the drone took footage and tracked information to make graphs and maps of the area.

The drones can be used for shooting scene reconstruction, homicide scenes, body recovery and more.

“It’s very important not only to law enforcement to evaluate the scene for safety aspects, but also for the citizens of Alabama to be able to recreate an incident whether it be in the courtroom or for any type of purpose to actually be able to see what’s going on out there in live action,” Grooms said.

Grooms added that the state department of forensic science is working with the department of public health for a grant that would allow for the purchase of three drones for the state mortuary response team.

“This really gives you a total picture, an overall view of what’s going on, and you don’t want to miss small details that may become a huge factor in a case or the outcome of a potential case,” Douglas Griffith from the Alabama Department of Forensic Science said.

Coroner Sumbry said technology such as drones can only make investigators better and can help provide closure to the families they serve.

“Certainly, we can’t bring anyone back from where they’ve gone, but certainly we can find the answers that are necessary that we can bring the family members a piece of mind at the end of the day,” Sumbry said. “People go missing and things like that happen where the family members just want some type of closure, and if we can help bring closure, then it can be a beginning or a new start of their life.”

Sumbry said his office hopes to host the training each year.

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