Within the Sheriff's Office is an investigative division known as the Crime Lab.
This division was formed in the late 1970’s when a need for investigators with specialized training in crime scenes was recognized. Crime scene investigations are carried out by personnel in this division who are known as "Forensic Specialists."
Some of the responsibilities of Forensic Specialists are:
- To analyze crime scenes to determine the chain of events at the time of the incident and to locate physical evidence that lends to the truth of the matter.
- Document crimes scenes to include general and comparison photography, note taking, sketching and diagramming.
- Conduct detailed inspections of crime scenes for the presence of evidence such as latent prints, footwear and tire impressions, firearms evidence, blood and other physiological fluids, controlled substances, and trace evidence such as hair, fibers, and gunshot residue.
- Collect and preserve physical evidence located within crime scenes.
- Photograph crime scenes, victims, autopsies, traffic accidents, property damage, stolen property, arson sites and suspects.
- Crime scene reconstructions to document determined events of an incident.
- Process collected evidence and maintain appropriate chain of custody to preserve crime scene evidence for presentation in court.
- Evaluate potential latent print surfaces and conduct latent fingerprint processing using appropriate powders, chemicals, or photographic techniques.
- Compare latent prints to known impressions to determine and then verify the identification or non-identification of latent prints to known impressions (persons).
- Examines various types of evidence to locate and identify biological stains such as blood, semen or other types of body fluids and biological stains for further DNA analysis.
- Serial number restorations on damaged or altered serial numbers on weapons and other surfaces.
- Analyze whole blood collected in DUI cases for blood alcohol levels.
- Analyze Illicit drugs.
- Analyze computers and related equipment for evidentiary material, such as child pornography.
- Computer graphics and image enhancement.
- Prepare and input latent fingerprints into a automated latent print identification system, also known as “AFIS.”
- Conducts forensic video analysis on evidentiary videos in various formats.
- Prepare demonstrative evidence (exhibits) for court room presentations by the district attorney's office.
- Testify as an expert witness in civil and criminal courts, pretrial conferences, grand juries, coroner’s inquests.
Around the country personnel with these same general responsibilities hold many different titles such as Crime Scene Analyst, Forensic Investigators, Crime Scene Technicians and Crime Scene Investigators or "CSI's."