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Crime Lab Sections

The Biology section is responsible for determining who may have left biological materials – such as blood, semen and saliva – at a crime scene. The section initially locates and identifies the cells, hair roots and biological stains (utilizing tests for blood, semen and saliva) suitable for DNA testing. Once the stains or biological material are identified, the generation of a STR genetic profile (or DNA profile) is obtained and is then compared to a known sample from an individual such as a victim or suspect. In cases with no known suspect, the laboratory may also submit the sample to the Combined DNA Indexing System (CODIS) in hopes of matching the sample to a convicted offender or previously identified sample from laboratories across the country. The section also assists in the identification of missing person and unidentified remains through comparisons of family reference samples and the CODIS database.

The primary focus of the Chemistry Section is the analysis of drugs of abuse. These include cocaine, methamphetamine, and marijuana. A wide variety of other drugs are also seen, including drug facilitated sexual assault drugs like GHB (gamma-hydroxybutyrate), club drugs like Ecstasy (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine) and BZP (N-benzylpiperazine), and prescription controlled substances like Oxycontin (oxycodone). Clandestine laboratories like those used to manufacture Methamphetamine, and a variety of other drugs, may be processed. The Chemistry Section also conducts the analysis of fire debris samples from suspected arson scenes to identify accelerants like gasoline that may be present. Fire debris and unknown drug samples are typically subjected to Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry (GC/MS) for analysis. Marijuana is analyzed by low-power microscopy and the Modified Duquenois-Levine Color test.

Crime Scene Investigation
The Crime Scene Investigation Section is responsible for responding to crime scenes on a 24-hour basis. Each member is trained in the identification, collection and preservation of evidence at crime scenes. The identification, collection and preservation techniques include the use of alternate light sources, chemical processing and presumptive blood testing. Furthermore, the responding member documents the location, condition and context of the evidence through diagrams, narrative reports and photography. These skills are essential to ensure evidence can be analyzed in the lab and admitted into court. Bloodstain pattern analysis is conducted by laboratory personnel as an adjunct of the Crime Scene Investigation discipline.

Digital Evidence
The Digital Evidence Section provides assistance with video recovery, viewing of proprietary video systems, and clarification of video images when possible. The section also performs photographic and video comparison examinations, which can help provide investigative leads and/or assist in the identification of individuals or objects. To perform these analyses, the section utilizes a range of specialized software programs as well as the ACE-VR methodology. Additionally, the section provides digital images and prints for the legal system and other requestors. Click for Photo Processing Fees.

The Firearms Section is responsible for test firing and examination of firearms and ammunition components. Ammunition components are those items that comprise live rounds such as bullets and cartridge cases. These components are compared to each other and to submitted firearms utilizing a comparison microscope to determine if they were fired in one or multiple firearms. The section also uses a digital imaging database called NIBIN/IBIS. Evidence and test fired cartridge cases are entered into the database system. The ensuing search allows examiners to potentially link cases that otherwise would not have been linked. If a firearm has an obliterated serial number, examiners can perform a serial number restoration technique using chemical processes to possibly restore the serial number.

Latent Fingerprints
The Latent Print Section conducts examinations of submitted latent prints utilizing standard ACE-V methodology. Additionally, the section utilizes a variety of standard chemical, physical, and photographic techniques to develop latent prints from items that cannot be routinely processed in the field. The examiners compare prints that are of value for identification to any known prints of victims, eliminations and/or suspects. If possible, unidentified prints are entered into the Automated Fingerprint/Palm Print Identification Systems (AFIS/APIS) in attempts to identify those prints. The Latent Print Section is also responsible for the analysis and the processing of footwear and tire track evidence.

Trace Evidence
The Trace Evidence Section is responsible for locating, characterizing and comparing trace materials such as hairs, fibers, paint, glass, tape and lubricants. The section also performs vehicle lamp examinations and physical match examinations, each of which offers reconstructive information to the criminal justice system. A battery of tests and instruments are used to accomplish each of these tasks.The instruments and methods utilized include: stereomicroscopes, comparison microscopes, tests using chemical reagents, polarized light microscopes, alternate light sources, a microspectrophotometer (MSP), a glass refractive index measuring system (GRIM), a micro x-ray fluorescence spectrometer (micro-XRF), a Fourier transform infrared spectrometer with a microscope accessory (FTIR), a scanning electron microscope (SEM-EDX), gas chromatography mass spectrometers (GC/MS) and a pyrolysis GC/MS.