The Charlottesville Police Department Forensic Unit has a long history of commitment to the field of forensic science and has gained national and international recognition for outstanding contributions in the field of forensic science, particularly through DNA crime scene processing. CBS Television, National Public Radio, and German Television have featured the investigative work of the unit in various stories.
Additionally, the Virginia Department of Forensic Science and Virginia Institute of Forensic Science and Medicine have recognized the unit for its effectiveness and success through the use of DNA Identifications, DNA Eliminations and the DNA Data Bank. The unit has led departments, per capita, in the area of DNA identifications, elimination, and cold DNA data bank confirmations. Such success proves paramount in the clearing of cold cases through the use of DNA. In July of 2003, the National Institute of Justice recognized these achievements with DNA through show-casing the unit at their annual conference in Washington D.C. Several members of the department have been called upon to lecture on DNA at local, state and national events.
A Detective Sergeant leads the unit, assisted by a detective and two civilian Forensic Support Specialists. The unit has 12 patrol and 3 detective evidence technicians at various skill levels. Evidence technicians handle most scenes and assist the supervisor and forensic detective on major incidents. Most of the unit members perform regular law enforcement duties as well as serve in the capacity of evidence technicians. The unit routinely responds to:
- Felony Assaults
- Recovered Stolen Vehicles
- Sexual Assaults
- Suspicious Death Investigations
The unit assists other local jurisdictions whenever possible.
Forensic Technicians & Virginia Forensic Science Academy
The unit has three Forensic Technicians who are graduates of the Virginia Forensic Science Academy. A Forensic Technician is on call 24 hours a day to respond to major incidents. The Virginia Department of Forensic Science sponsors the academy, which is a nine-week resident course and trains 12 Officers from throughout the Commonwealth biannually. Students receive extensive training in:
- Blood Spatter Analysis
- Crime Scene Analysis
- Crime Scene Photography
- Criminal Profiling
- Forensic Biology
- Forensic Entomology
- Legal Issues
- Sketching, Fingerprint Processing
- Trace Evidence
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.
The unit’s Forensic Technicians also have received advanced specialized training in other areas such as:
- Advanced blood spatter analysis
- Criminal profiling
- Death scenes
- Fire/arson investigation
- Geographic profiling
- Mass-casualty incidents
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.