Division of Forensic Sciences
The principal mission of the Division of Forensic Sciences, commonly referred to as the “crime lab” is to provide quality and timely scientific analyses of physical evidence to law enforcement agencies operating in Westchester County. The laboratory also provides expert scientific testimony to the various courts in our jurisdictional area. The various units that comprise this division examine evidentiary materials such as blood, tissue, drugs, footwear impressions, fibers, hairs, glass etc. To promote these objectives various quality assurance measures have been instituted over the years to ensure the legal system of the accuracy of the work product of our laboratory. The quality of this work is affirmed through the accreditations of the laboratory by both private and governmental accrediting bodies. The division is proud to have taken a leadership role in the pursuit of these accreditations.
In 1991 the Westchester County Forensic Science Laboratory became the first full service forensic laboratory in the Northeast to gain accreditation by the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors – Laboratory Accreditation Board (ASCLD/LAB).
Additionally, in 1999, our laboratory was the fourteenth laboratory in the country to receive accreditation in Forensic Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) Analysis. In 2001 we were one of the first two laboratories in the country to obtain accreditation from ASCLD/LAB for Crime Scene Investigation. The laboratory also maintains accreditation with New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services with oversight by the New York State Commission on Forensic Sciences. New York State is presently one of only a few states to mandate accreditation of public forensic science laboratories.
To maintain our accreditation by ASCLAD/LAB and N.Y.S/Commission on Forensic Sciences our laboratory is constantly striving to ensure that the services delivered meet all the expectations of our customers all of the time. We include as our customers the court system, jurors, prosecutors, defense attorneys, law enforcement officers, crime victims, suspects, and defendants. This is done through a three-pronged approach.
Firstly the laboratory is subjected to periodic inspections by ASCLAD/LAB and internal audits every year to ensure the overall proper operation of the laboratory.
Secondly, individual analysts are encouraged to undertake continuing education, participate in training courses and to keep abreast of the latest developments in their fields. Laboratory staff members actively participate in organizations such as the Northeastern Association of Forensic Scientists, and the American Academy of Forensic Sciences. The analysts are also encouraged to obtain certification from the American Board of Criminalistics (ABC) and other certifying bodies. It is noteworthy that a significant number of our analysts are certified as either Diplomates or Fellows by the ABC.
last and the most important leg of this triad is that of testing the
laboratory’s precision and accuracy through a rigorous program of proficiency
testing. Every analyst in the laboratory annually undergoes at least one
proficiency test from an external proficiency test provider.
The division has been a very active partner with the law enforcement community of Westchester County, providing countless courses and presentations, which promote the use and understanding of scientific evidence in criminal investigations.
The division also participates in community outreach by offering tours to local educational institutions and through an active internship program conducted in conjunction with a number of area schools.
It is this constant process of evaluation, improvement and dedication to the needs of local law enforcement that keeps our laboratory on the cutting edge of the Forensic Sciences.
The Division of Forensic Sciences strives to provide our county with the most advanced analysis of physical evidence in a cost-effective way, thus contributing to the increased safety of all the residents of Westchester County.