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Forensic Services Section

The Anne Arundel County Police Forensic Services Section is divided into six disciplines.

 
 

About the Section

OUR MISSION: We are committed to working in partnership with our community by providing the highest quality forensic services to help solve crime. Specifically, the Forensic Services Section secures and preserves evidence through our evidence collection unit to conduct laboratory analyses in the areas of seized drugs, forensic biology (CODIS), friction ridge (MAFIS), digital forensics, and firearms.


ORGANIZATIONAL VALUES: We, as the Anne Arundel County Forensic Services Section, recognize our contribution to the quality of life and safe environments in our community through the provision of professional forensic services. We meet the challenge of providing these services by basing our thoughts and actions on a recognized set of values that operate within the organization. We see these values as a set of shared common beliefs that contribute to the success of the team. This structure of beliefs and shared values provide a common cause for all members of our team. From these values we derive our policies and procedures; therefore, faithful adherence to these beliefs by all personnel is paramount. We believe that the overall success of our organization, as well as its’ individual employees, is achieved through our commitment to the following values: 

Written as the acronym FORENSIC: 

Forward Thinking: We value the spirit of forward thinking and continual learning. We value professionalism, education, having a clear sense of commitment, perspective and direction. Forward thinking is developed by creating an environment that encourages teamwork, innovation, and constant evaluation of ourselves. 
 
Opportunity for Improvement: We recognize there is always an opportunity for improvement. If we are standing still, we are not moving forward to learn and stay abreast of the latest technology. We will constantly research scientific methods to find opportunities to improve. 
 
Respect: We show respect and are faithful to the law, community, each other, and our families. We are loyal to our fundamental duty to serve mankind, to preserve evidence, and to respect the constitutional rights of all people for liberty, equality and justice. 

Ethics: The citizens of Anne Arundel County are entitled to a forensic organization that is ethical and beyond reproach. We strive to provide the highest ethical, impartial, and courteous service to our community. 

Neutral: As forensic scientists we are unbiased in our approach to all analyses and examinations of evidence. We are impartial, independent, and objective with due diligence. We conduct full and fair examinations. Conclusions are based solely on the evidence and reference material relevant to the evidence, not on extraneous information, political pressure, or other outside influences. 

Science: We uphold the definition of forensic science as “the application of scientific principles and techniques to matters of criminal justice especially as relating to the collection, examination, and analysis of physical evidence” (Merriam-Webster.com Medical Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/medical/forensic%20science. Accessed 24 Jun. 2020.)

Integrity: We are committed to integrity and building trust within our community by maintaining the highest ethical standards. Integrity includes honesty, accountability, responsibility, openness, and humility. A person of integrity possesses moral courage and does what is right even if the personal cost is high. The time is always right to do the right thing.

Control of Quality: Anne Arundel County Forensic Services maintains a QA/QC program to ensure the quality, integrity, and reliability of conclusions, to deliver accurate, impartial service, in a timely manner by adherence to documented requirements that fully satisfy both our needs and those of our customers. The victim, defendant, prosecutor, defense attorney, judge or jury will receive reliable results from Forensic Services. The life or liberty of an individual may depend on the analyses conducted by forensic scientists and their corresponding testimony in a court of law.

The Forensic Services Section is divided into six disciplines:

  

  • Biology
    The Biology unit utilizes robotics and Short Tandem Repeat (STR) DNA testing to provide evidence examination for the Officers of the Anne Arundel County police Department.  The Biology Unit receives over 400 cases a year, including homicides and sexual assaults, as well as thefts and burglaries. Anne Arundel County collaborates with the FBI as well as other laboratories nationwide through the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS), which allows the unit to link crimes and connect perpetrators.  The Biology Unit also investigates missing person cases, using DNA to link unidentified remains to relatives.
  • Crime Scene Investigation

    The Crime Scene Unit provides civilian staff support to all other units of the department in matters involving the identification, documentation, collection and processing of physical evidence from crime scenes in Anne Arundel County.  Crime Scene Technicians are specially trained in forensic photography, latent print processing, recovery of footwear and tire tread impressions, shooting trajectory analysis, bloodstain pattern interpretation and other forensic examinations. This Crime Scene Unit is staffed by four shifts of Crime Scene Technicians who are available twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year to respond to crime scenes ranging from burglaries to homicides.  On average, the Crime Scene Unit responds to 3,200 calls for service a year.  

    Evidence Coordination

    The Evidence Coordination Unit is staffed by Evidence Coordinators, who oversee the assessment and case management of physical evidence obtained by Crime Scene Technicians at major crime scenes to ensure adherence to Federal and State standards, and departmental operating procedures. The assessment process involves an analysis, evaluation and identification of specific forensic tests to be conducted on physical evidence, the shelf life of the physical evidence, and testing methodologies to support subsequent forensic testing efforts.

    Personnel assigned to this section determine the course of progressive examination of all forensic analysis that will be performed on physical evidence and make arrangements for the forensic testing of evidence via local, state, federal, and private crime laboratories.

    Personnel also assist the Criminal Investigation Division, District Detective Units, the States Attorney's Office, Defense Attorneys, and external law enforcement agencies by ensuring that physical evidence from major crime scenes is properly handled from the point of collection at the crime scene to its presentation in courts of law.

  • Digital Forensics

    The Digital Forensics Unit is staffed with specially trained Officers who provide quality forensic analysis of digital evidence through their expert identification, collection, preservation, extraction, and interpretation of digital evidence from electronic storage devices.

    Photography Laboratory

    The Photography Unit is staffed by Photographic Technicians who provide support and facilitate all photographic and video image enhancement needs of the Anne Arundel County Police Department.  They are responsible for the maintenance of all forensic photography, printing, video enhancement and videotaping services, as well as the capture station maintenance and image administration of the video mug shot system.  Additionally, they provide assistance with response to crime scenes to aid in the documentation and reconstruction of evidence with specialized techniques, recovery of digital video evidence, and special events photography, such as promotional and graduation ceremonies.

  • Friction Ridge

    The Friction Ridge Unit is a specialized unit of Latent Print Examiners who are responsible for the analysis and comparison of friction ridge impression evidence associated with criminal casework. The unit also conducts automated searches through the Maryland Automated Fingerprint Identification System (MAFIS), which is maintained by Maryland State Police.  All latent prints of comparative value are encoded into the Maryland Automated Fingerprint Identification System (MAFIS), to be searched for a matching known fingerprint, on file within the state of Maryland.  Latents that are not identified are entered into the Unsolved Latent File within MAFIS.  Latent prints of comparative value will be continually searched at the state level.

    Ten Print

    The Ten Print Unit is responsible for the maintenance and storage of the Web Archive ten-print and palm print fingerprint records and the comparison of ten-prints. This unit performs comprehensive clerical duties in support of the criminal justice system to include the verification of identification of fingerprints, court ordered expungements and by providing testimony at court sentencing hearings to confirm identity.
  • Seized Drugs
    The seized drugs unit analyzes suspected Controlled Dangerous Substance (CDS) evidence for Anne Arundel County, Department of Corrections, and Annapolis City Police Departments. The Unit receives approximately 3,500 cases per year. The Unit utilizes Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry, Flame Ionization Detection, High Performance Liquid Chromatography, and Fourier Transform Infrared Spectrometry instrumentation to confirm drugs such as Heroin, Fentanyl, and Cocaine. 
  • Firearms
    The Firearms Examination Unit is staffed by Firearms Examiner(s) who operate out of the ISO 17025 accredited Prince Georges County Forensic Sciences Division - Firearms Examination Unit, in Palmer Park, MD.  The Firearms Examination Unit is responsible for examining firearms and firearm related evidence such as cartridge cases, bullets, and bullet fragments recovered from crime scenes, as well as tool mark, serial number restoration.  Firearms are examined for proper function and test fired cartridge cases as well as bullets are generated for microscopic comparison against firearms evidence recovered from crime scenes.  Additionally, the unit utilizes the National Integrated Ballistics Information Network (NIBIN) database, maintained by the Prince Georges County Firearms Examination Unit, to enter cartridge cases into the system for correlation against images in an attempt to link different crimes together.