A Detective Sergeant leads the unit, assisted by one Forensic Detective and a Forensic Support Specialist. The unit has ten Patrol and three Detective Evidence Technicians at skill levels ranging from Tech I, Tech II , Forensic Tech and Crime Scene Analyst. The Evidence Technicians handle most scenes or assist the Forensic Technicians on major incidents. Most of the unit members perform regular law enforcement duties as well as serve in the capacity of evidence technicians. A Forensic Technician is on call 24 hours a day to respond to major incidents. The unit routinely responds to burglaries, robberies, recovered stolen vehicles, felony assaults, sexual assaults, and suspicious death investigations. The unit assist other local jurisdictions whenever possible.
The unit has four Forensic Technicians who are graduates of the Virginia Forensic Science Academy. The Virginia Division of Forensic Science sponsors the academy. The Forensic Academy is a nine-week resident course and has a long waiting list. The Academy trains 12 Officers from throughout the Commonwealth biannually. Students receive extensive training in crime scene photography, sketching, fingerprint processing, trace evidence, blood spatter analysis, forensic biology, forensic entomology, criminal profiling, crime scene analysis, and legal issues. Students also spend time with the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner at autopsy to interpret wounds, cause and manner of death. Graduates attend re-training annually. From 1974 until 2001, the Virginia Forensic Science Academy was the only one of its kind in the nation. The Virginia Division of Forensic Science considers the Charlottesville Police Department Forensic Unit one of the most effective in the state.
The unit’s Forensic Technicians have received advanced specialized training in other areas such as mass-casualty incidents, advanced blood spatter analysis, fingerprints, firearms, explosives, death scenes, fire/arson investigation, criminal profiling and geographic profiling. Many hold memberships in associations such as the International Association of Identification, International Association of Bomb Technicians and Investigators, and International Association of Arson Investigators. Several of the Forensic Technicians are recognized experts in multiple forensic disciplines.
Forensic Unit members are trained in the use of crime scene processing techniques and equipment such as; the Omnichrome 5000 Alternate Light Source (ALS), Electrostatic Dust Lifter, blood and DNA recovery, Photography, Digital Photography, Denstone, Mikrosil, Latent Finger Print Identification, Footwear Identification, Lip Print recovery, computerized crime scene sketching, computerized suspect composite sketching, Gun Shot Residue (GSR) recovery, serial number recovery, Luminol, exhumation of human remains, as well as others. Additionally, the unit is linked to the Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms (ATF) directly by computer.