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Forensic Services Section

The Forensic Services Section (FSS) is dedicated to providing accurate and objective scientific support for criminal investigations. This is accomplished through the work of expert forensic scientists and highly trained and experienced police professionals.

The FSS consists of a mobile crime scene team and comprehensive forensic laboratory team. The FSS provides services, including expert testimony, for the following disciplines:

  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Crime Scene
  • Digital and Multimedia Evidence
  • Evidence Processing
  • Firearms and Toolmarks
  • Latent Prints

The FSS was originally accredited by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) in 2013. The FSS is currently accredited by the ANSI National Accreditation Board (ANAB) to the ISO/IEC 17025:2017 standard. In addition to its accreditation, the FSS is recognized by the state of Maryland as a forensic laboratory.

Watch our video to learn about the open positions in the Forensics Lab and apply online.

Administration Section

The Administration Section consists of a Laboratory Director, an Assistant Director-Lieutenant, a Quality and Technical Services Manager, an Office Assistant and a Police Cadet.

The Laboratory Director and Lieutenant are responsible for overseeing the day-to-day activities of the Laboratory personnel and ensuring commitment to the mission of the Police Department. The Quality and Technical Services Manager along with the Laboratory Director are responsible for monitoring technical and management systems to ensure compliance with accreditation standards, federal, state, local and departmental requirements.

Biology Unit

The Biology Unit consists of a Supervisor and six DNA Analysts. The Biology Unit receives over 400 requests per year for analysis of a variety of crimes. The analysts screen evidence for the presence of bodily fluids and conduct DNA analysis on probative samples.

In addition to the FSS’s accreditation, the Biology Unit adheres to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Quality Assurance Standards for Forensic DNA Testing Laboratories. This enables the Biology Unit to participate in the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System (CODIS), giving Baltimore County the ability to compare DNA profiles developed from local crime scene evidence to convicted offenders, arrestees and other crime scene evidence profiles all across the country.

Chemistry Unit

The Chemistry Unit consists of a Supervisor and seven Chemists. The Chemistry Unit analyzes evidence submitted by investigators for the presence of controlled dangerous substances (CDS). CDS are analyzed by using a variety of techniques to include microscopy, Gas Chromatograph/Mass Spectrometry (GC/MS) and Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR).

In addition to the FSS’s accreditation, the Chemistry Unit is licensed by the state of Maryland and registered with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. Accordingly, the Chemistry Unit abides by the additional requirements of these entities regarding procurement, transfer, possession, storage, use and disposal of CDS.

Crime Scene Unit

The Crime Scene Unit (CSU) consists of three Supervisors and 19 Forensic Services Technicians, to include six Police Officers. The CSU is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Forensic Service Technicians respond to crime scenes for the purpose of documenting, photographing and recovering evidence. Technicians are trained to identify and preserve probative evidence, specializing in complex crime scenes.

The Technicians also process items of evidence for latent prints using chemical and powder techniques. Latent prints developed and recovered as evidence are submitted to the Latent Print Unit for examination.

Digital and Multimedia Evidence Unit

The Digital and Multimedia Evidence Unit (DMEU) consists of a Supervisor, four Computer Forensic Examiners, one Video Examiner and two Forensic Photographers.

  • The Computer Forensic Examiners are responsible for analyzing devices including computers, mobile devices, video game systems, etc. for digital evidence.
  • The Video Examiner is responsible for the extraction and enhancement of video surveillance evidence.
  • The Forensic Photographers maintain the photographs taken by Forensic Services Technicians and investigating officers at crime scenes and assist the Department in personnel and other media-related photographic services.

Evidence Processing Unit

The Evidence Processing Unit consists of two Forensic Analysts. Forensic Analysts process requests for laboratory examinations from the field. Their specialties include latent print processing, footwear examinations and database searches. The Forensic Analysts provide training for the Forensic Services Technicians and keep FSS current by validating the latest evidence processing techniques.

Firearms and Tool Marks Unit

The Firearms Unit consists of a Supervisor, two Firearms Examiners, one part-time Firearms Examiner and one sworn Firearms Technician. Firearms Examiners perform examinations and comparisons of microscopic markings on fired bullets and cartridge casings, render firearms safe, conduct scientific field investigations of shooting scenes and perform serial number restoration.

The Firearms Unit is an established IBIS (Integrated Ballistics Identification System) Site recognized by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). This recognition authorizes the Unit to access the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN) database. Access to this database enables Baltimore County to compare evidence submitted for image capture from local crime scenes to other crimes or firearms in the NIBIN database.

Latent Print Unit

The Latent Print Unit consists of a Supervisor, three Latent Print Examiners and one part-time Latent Print Examiner. Latent Print Examiners complete a variety of tasks from analysis of latent prints recovered from crime scenes to the comparison and verification of potential identifications. The Examiners use a computer documentation system known as Mideo. This documentation system tracks the process from start to finish.

Examiners utilize the scientific method of Analysis, Comparison, Evaluation and Verification or ACE-V Method. Once an Examiner determines that a print is of value they can utilize the Maryland Automated Fingerprint Identification System (MAFIS) and Federal Automated Fingerprint Identification System known as the Next Generation Identification (NGI).

These databases give Baltimore County access to the entire state of Maryland’s fingerprint records and records for the entire country, respectively.

 
Revised October 26, 2020         

 

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