Crime Labs in the State of Virginia

In the State of Virginia, there are several crime labs operated by 3 primary entities  the State of Virginia, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Drug Enforcement Agency.  With Virginia bordering Washington D.C., there are additional crime labs servicing the District of Columbia and the Department of Homeland Security.  Each of these entities has certain specialties in various regions throughout the state of Virginia and all accredited by the ASCLDLAB (American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors  Laboratory Accreditation Board,2004).

    The Federal Bureau of Investigation (the FBI) is headquartered in Quantico, Virginia.  There are two crime labs for the FBI in Virginia, both located at Quantico  the FBI Laboratory and the FBI Digital Evidence Laboratory.  There is a multitude of services that the FBI Laboratory provides including Forensic Analysis (cryptology and documents), Forensic Science (crime scene, counterterrorism research, and facial imaging, Scientific Analysis (DNA, trace evidence, and firearmstool marks), and Operational Response (explosives, imaging, and hazardous material).  While the FBI generally supports the Federal government, the Laboratory supports Federal, State, and Local government law enforcement agencies (Federal Bureau of Investigation, n.d.).  The Digital Evidence Laboratory primarily conducts computer forensic analysis, including analysis of digital audio, video, and images (Federal Bureau of Investigation,2007).

    The State of Virginia has four regional labs in the Department of Forensic Science (the DFS) Central, Eastern, Northern and Western, the largest of which is the Central lab.   The Central lab provides the most services including all of the following
Bloodstain Pattern Analysis
Breath Alcohol Certification
Controlled Substances
Firearms  Tool marks
Forensic Biology
Forensic Toxicology (including DUI  DUID)
Latent Prints
Photo Processing
Questioned Documents
Trace Evidence (including alcoholic beverages  GSR) (State of Virginia,2005-2010)
The Eastern, Northern, and Western primarily support only Controlled Substances, Firearms  Tool marks, Forensic Biology, Forensic Toxicology, Latent Prints, Questioned Documents, and
Trace Evidence.  The DFS supports a large base of customers including the state courts, the medical examiners office, the Sheriffs office, as well as local law enforcement agencies (State of Virginia, 2005-2010).

     In Lorton, Virginia, where this author is from, there are three labs.  The DEA Digital Evidence Lab, the District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Department Forensic Biology and Trace Evidence Units, and private entity The Bode Technology Group.  The Bode Technology Group specializes in DNA testing and analysis and does work for Federal, State, and Local law enforcement agencies, as well as other laboratories in need of assistance (Bode Technology Group,2010)..  The DEA Digital Evidence Lab examines forensic evidence in the form of digital information.  For example, this Lab extracts information from seized computers, smart phones, and other forms of media to gather evidence and solve crimes.  This lab is primarily used by the DEA itself. (U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, n.d.).  Lastly in Lorton, the DC Metros Lab conducts analysis on fine hairs and fibers (District of Columbia Forensic Biology Section,n.d.) primarily for local law enforcement offices.

    As mentioned previously, all labs in this paper are accredited by ASCLDLAB.  Being in the state of Virginia, and in terms of crime labs, this author found that one of the benefits is that the state is near enough to Washington D.C. for the labs service many of the Federal governments law enforcement agencies, as well as state and local agencies.  This means that the labs work a wide variety of investigations and there are vast resources available in the area of Forensic Science.


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