Students Visit Crime Lab

Members of Touro Law’s Criminal Law Society visited the Suffolk County Office of the Medical Examiner, which includes the Medical Forensic, Toxicology, and Crime Laboratory departments. Students were able to get a glimpse of the crime laboratory and its different sections, including Biological Sciences, Firearms, Questioned Documents, Trace Evidence, Drug Chemistry, Crime Scene Investigations and Reconstruction, Crash Reconstruction, Quality Control and Evidence Control.

During the tour, students saw the full collection of guns in possession of the Firearms Unit, and how such guns are analyzed in comparison to illegal weapons and ammunition recovered from a shooting scene; document testing and how the examiners distinguish redacted information from added ink; and how the Tracing Unit determines a “hit-and-run” through impression comparisons of tire tracks.

Although the lab focuses on forensic sciences, the tour was geared towards explaining how the medical investigators and pathologists partner with attorneys and law enforcement during litigation proceedings. The agency frequently provides expertise and services to Suffolk County’s District Attorney’s Office and Police Department on both criminal and civil matters. The laboratory has even provided services to the United States Attorney’s Office, and other agencies that may request assistance.

Students were able to ask direct questions on how case reports and samples collected may be used both in and outside a courtroom. A pending case may be closed purely through a forensic analysis, or it could be closed after a trial, and each section of the crime laboratory may play a different role in how this is achieved. For example, any analyst that works case-related evidence is also responsible for giving expert witness testimony in a related trial, and the Quality Assurance Manager of the laboratory observes and evaluates prepared written reviews. In the Chemistry Section, any instrumentation used is highly specialized to support prosecution of criminal cases. These services work in tandem to provide the resolution of legal matters while also ensuring that the laboratory maintains its accreditation.



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