The VRCL is designed to assist the criminal justice community in analyzing evidence taken from crime scenes. The VRCL uses state-of-the-art technology and equipment in the analysis of evidence. Examiners employed at the VRCL are highly trained and educated in their fields of specialty. They also receive extensive training in their areas of expertise. Each is qualified to provide expert courtroom testimony. The VRCL was granted accreditation by ASCLD/LAB-International Program in May 2013.
The VRCL is comprised of the Forensic Biology Unit, Computer Forensics Unit, and Forensic Services Unit. Three Examiners staff the DNA lab, four examiners in Forensic Services (which includes NIBIN, Crime Scene Processing and Latent Prints), and four examiners in the Computer Forensics Lab. The staff also provides training to law enforcement officers and detectives in crime scene investigation, evidence collection and preservation.
The VRCL offer forensic services which include the following:
- Crime Scene Investigations: Photography, Evidence Collection, Scene Sketch
- Forensic Biology: DNA, CODIS
- Latent Prints: Processing, Comparisons, AFIS
- Firearms: Test fire and NIBIN
- Digital Forensics: Computers and Cell Phones
Laboratory Accredited by ASCLD/LAB-International; ISO/IEC 17025
Computer forensics is the application of computer investigation and analysis techniques to gather evidence suitable for presentation in a court of law. The goal of computer forensics is to perform a structured investigation while maintaining a documented chain of evidence to find out exactly what happened on a computer and who if possible, was responsible for it.
CFL is a full service digital forensics laboratory devoted entirely to the examination of digital evidence in support of criminal investigations, such as, but not limited to:
- Child pornography
- Crimes of violence
- The theft or destruction to intellectual property
- Internet crimes
The Verdugo Regional Crime Laboratory, Computer Forensics Laboratory (CFL) delivers digital and multimedia evidence processing, forensic examination, and expert testimony for the Glendale Police Department and any Law Enforcement Agency requiring investigative support.
VRCL-CFL’s average exam turn-around time is 30 days for digital forensic support; cell phone, multimedia, and network intrusion cases are supported on a priority basis.
Crime Scene Investigation
The Crime Scene Section provides crime scene investigation services for property crimes and crimes against persons. The services include photography, processing for fingerprints, and crime scene sketching; as well as the detection, recognition, documentation, collection, interpretation, and preservation of physical evidence associated with the crime scene. Forensic specialists are also responsible for taking aerial photographs of major crime scenes.
The Forensic Biology Unit is responsible for the detection and identification of biological materials on evidentiary items; a process commonly known as “screening”. Cases submitted to the Forensic Biology Unit for DNA testing can be placed into the following examination categories:
- Secretions (semen, saliva, etc)
- Touch/wearer DNA
The Forensic Biology Unit uses the following techniques for the detection of biological materials:
- Visual examinations (macro, microscopic)
- Alternate Light Source
- Blood Presumptive Tests (Kastle-Meyer, Hemastix®)
- Blood Confirmatory Test (ABACard HemaTrace)
- Semen Presumptive Test (Acid Phosphatase Test)
- Semen Confirmatory Tests (Microscopic w/Christmas Tree Staining, Seratec® PSA Semiquant)
Probative biological material identified during evidence screening may be analyzed using a DNA technology that tests the biological material at 16 different genetic areas of the DNA (STRs, Amelogenin). The DNA profile obtained from the evidence is compared to the DNA profile from known samples (victim, suspect, elimination samples such as a witness, husband/boyfriend, etc) to determine if an individual is included or excluded as a possible source of the biological material.
CODIS: The DNA Database
The DNA profiles from forensic specimens and convicted felons are submitted to a national database.
The Combined DNA Index System -- (CODIS) system is a program that is headed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation - (FBI). The objective of this database is to link serial crimes on a national level, much like the Automated Fingerprint Index System -- AFIS. This system has had tremendous successes by solving several high profile crimes that would otherwise not have been solved.
This section is devoted to the detection, development, enhancement, and comparison of latent print evidence. Unknown latent prints are submitted to the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) for a computerized search against fingerprint records through state, local, and federal databases.
Forensic Specialists in the Latent Print Section process evidence in a laboratory setting. Some processing techniques may take several days to complete and may involve many steps of sequential processing. Specialists use various processing techniques that are designed to develop latent prints on a variety of surfaces. The process used is dependent on the surface and include powder, Cyanoacrylate, Ninhydrin, and Wetwop. Other chemical processes are continually being validated. In addition, digital imaging allows examiners to process latent print images, make enlargements, and prepare courtroom displays.
The Latent Print Section also provides technical expertise in the analysis and evaluation of latent print evidence. Latent prints are analyzed to determine suitability for comparison to a subject and/or entry into AFIS. A latent print that is entered into AFIS searches against hundreds of thousands of fingerprints and palm prints. A list of potential candidates is produced by the system and the fingerprint examiner determines if there is a potential “hit”. The examiner then visually compares the latent print evidence to the fingerprints on file to determine whom the print belongs.