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Crime Laboratory

 

The mission of the Crime Laboratory is to provide our community with
quality forensic science and excellent service.

The Crime Laboratory is one of the three sections of the Forensic Division within the Investigative Services Bureau. The Tucson Police Department Crime Laboratory is the oldest crime laboratory in Arizona, founded in 1960. The laboratory’s initial home was in the Investigative Division located on the fourth floor of the Parkview Hotel (in the vicinity of Congress Street and Meyer). In 1962, the laboratory moved to the basement of old City Hall. In 1972, the laboratory moved into its third home, the first floor of TPD Headquarters, 270 South Stone Avenue.  In April 1989, we moved to our fourth location on the second floor of the west wing of Headquarters. In September of 2011, we moved to our current location at 1306 W. Miracle Mile.

 Lab Personnel

This laboratory was one of the first municipal crime laboratories in the United States to gain national accreditation (1993) by the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors-Laboratory Accreditation Board (ASCLD-LAB).

Our laboratory is a full-service forensic laboratory (except limited toxicology) organized into seven operational units: Forensic Biology (DNA), Comparative Analysis, Latent Prints, Chemical Analysis, Toxicology, Forensic Electronic Media, and Administrative Support. We have a staff of 31: a Crime Lab Superintendent, a Quality Assurance Manager, 4 Crime Laboratory Coordinators, 1 DNA Technical Leader, 20 Criminalists, 3 Digital Media Analysts, and 1 administrative professional.

In order to work in our Crime Laboratory, one must possess a Bachelor Degree in a physical science. Each Unit has its own training program. For example, the training period for a new Firearms examiner is about two years. In other areas, such as Drug Analysis or Fire Debris Analysis, it can be about one year or longer.

For additional information, contact Susan Shankles, Crime Lab Superintendent.

 

For job opportunities at the Crime Lab, please see the City of Tucson website.  The Crime Lab does not offer internships. http://www.tucsonaz.gov/sigma/JobListings.aspx

 

Forensic Biology Section

The TPD DNA section has one Coordinator, one DNA Technical Leader, and five Criminalists. Sources of DNA are biological fluids like blood, semen, or saliva, or touch DNA from skin cells. A complete copy of an individual’s DNA is found in most cells of their body. This DNA is extracted, amplified using the Polymerase Chain Reaction, and analyzed.

Evidence analyzed includes bloodstains, bedding, clothing, drink containers, weapons, eyeglasses, stamps, hair roots, cigarette butts, steering wheel swabs, airbags, partly eaten food, fingernails, etc. Cases now include property crimes and cold cases, as well as crimes against people.

DNA profiles are compared to buccal or bloodstain standards from suspects and/or victims, or can be searched through the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) database.

For additional information, contact Andrea Frank, DNA Coordinator.

 

For job opportunities at the Crime Lab, please see the City of Tucson website.  The Crime Lab does not offer internships. http://www.tucsonaz.gov/sigma/JobListings.aspx

 

Firearms Testing

Comparative Analysis Section - Firearms Identification/Toolmark Comparison

Two fulltime Firearm Examiners and one Coordinator currently staff this unit. Most of the analyses are subjective in nature, meaning that the examiner relies heavily upon observation (rather than instrumentation) to make a determination. They examine expended cartridge cases and bullets from crime scenes to determine if they can be linked to a specific firearm. If the firearm is not available, examination of the bullets and/or cartridge cases also allows a determination of the type of weapon used, information that is often useful to the case detective. Comparisons are conducted using a specialized light microscope that allows the examiner to view both the evidence sample and the test sample simultaneously. Other examinations performed by Firearm Examiners include function and accuracy tests, trigger pull measurements (the force required to fire the weapon), muzzle-to-target distance determinations, serial number restorations, and toolmark comparisons. The laboratory participates in a nationwide computer database, NIBIN (National Integrated Ballistics Information Network Program),that links firearms from crimes in multiple jurisdictions. We testify in court on all of our findings.

Latent Print Criminalist

For additional information, please contact Frank Powell, Comparative Analysis Coordinator.

 

For job opportunities at the Crime Lab, please see the City of Tucson website.  The Crime Lab does not offer internships. http://www.tucsonaz.gov/sigma/JobListings.aspx

 

Latent Print Section

Previously part of the Identification Section, the Latent Print Unit (LPU) became a part of the Crime Laboratory July 1, 2001. Six Criminalist Latent Print Examiners currently staff this unit. Members of the LPU are responsible for all examination of crime scene latent prints to known fingerprints. When requested, this unit searches crime scene latent prints through Arizona Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AZAFIS). AZAFIS cases are run when no suspect information is available. We testify in court on all of our findings. Contact Frank Powell, Comparative Analysis Coordinator.

Chemical Analysis

Chemical Analysis Section – Drugs

We analyze the powders, tablets, capsules, and unknown substances that are suspected of being dangerous drugs or narcotics. These can be as simple as an aspirin tablet or as complex as a dozen samples from a suspected drug lab. We go to court and give testimony on all of our findings. This section includes three Criminalists and one Crime Lab Coordinator. Contact Lisa Windsor, Chemical Analysis Coordinator

 

For job opportunities at the Crime Lab, please see the City of Tucson website.  The Crime Lab does not offer internships. http://www.tucsonaz.gov/sigma/JobListings.aspx

 

Chemical Analysis Section – Arson & Explosives

One fulltime Criminalist staffs the Arson & Explosives Section. The TPD Crime Lab currently examines fire debris evidence for the presence of ignitable liquids and examines explosives and explosive residues evidence for the presence of low explosives, pyrotechnic explosives, high explosives, or any combination of chemicals that can cause an explosion. These are done with high tech instruments and specialized microscopes. Testimony is given in court on all of the findings. For additional information, please contact Lisa Windsor, Chemical Analysis Coordinator.

 

For job opportunities at the Crime Lab, please see the City of Tucson website.  The Crime Lab does not offer internships. http://www.tucsonaz.gov/sigma/JobListings.aspx

 

Toxicology Section

Toxicology Section This section analyzes blood samples for alcohol content and maintains the Department’s Intoxilyzer instruments. We are responsible for training officers in the operation of the Intoxilyzer. We go to court and give testimony on all of our findings. This section includes three Criminalists and one Crime Lab Coordinator. Contact Terry Gallegos, Toxicology Coordinator.

 

For job opportunities at the Crime Lab, please see the City of Tucson website.  The Crime Lab does not offer internships. http://www.tucsonaz.gov/sigma/JobListings.aspx

 

Forensic Electronic Media Unit

This unit has three Digital Media Analysts who handle computer, mobile device and video/audio forensics. The FEMU is the only unit in the Crime Lab that responds out to crime scenes to collect evidence. Our primary functions are to collect, preserve, process, and analyze digital evidence. For additional information, please contact Vicky Bode, FEMU Coordinator.

 

For job opportunities at the Crime Lab, please see the City of Tucson website.  The Crime Lab does not offer internships. http://www.tucsonaz.gov/sigma/JobListings.aspx

 

E-mail the Crime Lab

For job opportunities at the Crime Lab, please see the City of Tucson website.  The Crime Lab does not offer internships.