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Local criminalist speaks at Rotary

Rotary Club of Tehachapi

The guest speaker at the Feb. 9 Rotary luncheon was Gregory Matheson, the retired director of the Los Angeles Police Department Criminalistics Laboratory where he had worked for over 30 years. Matheson emphasized that he is a criminalist and not a criminologist. A criminologist uses science to study crime and criminals. A criminalist collects and analyzes forensic evidence from a crime scene and is court qualified in toxicology, serology, crime scene investigation and the examination of explosives, flammable liquids and even vehicle lamp filaments.

"A criminalist is always a forensic scientist," said Matheson, "but a forensic scientist is not always a criminalist."

Matheson worked at the Los Angeles crime lab from 1978 to 2012 and was one of the scientists assigned to the OJ Simpson trial and the Ennis Cosby murder. He told Rotarians that the Los Angeles Crime Lab was the very first one in one in the U.S., founded in 1923. It has been in several locations over the years with the latest being located at CSU Los Angeles. The special units that operate out of the lab are narcotics, toxicology, ballistics, DNA, trace anaysis, documentation and the field units. Matheson now teaches and is a specialist in toxicology, poisons and crime scene analysis.

Matheson moved to Bear Valley Springs three years ago and is a local woodworker. His parents have lived here since 1982.

The Rotary Club of Tehachapi is a volunteer service organization with the motto, "Service Above Self." The club meets on Thursdays at noon. For more information about Rotary Club, you can visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/RotaryClubofTehachapi/ or contact club President Judy Trujillo, (661) 699-5851.