A crime laboratory - often shortened to crime lab - is a scientific laboratory, using primarily forensic science for the purpose of examining evidence from criminal cases.
A typical crime lab has two sets of personnel:
- Field analysts - investigators that go to crime scenes, collect evidence, and process the scene. Job titles include:
- Forensic evidence technician
- Crime scene investigator
- Scenes of crime officer (SOCO)
- Laboratory analysts - scientists who run tests on the evidence once it is brought to the lab (i.e., DNA tests, or bullet striations). Job titles include:
- Forensic technician
- Forensic scientist
- Forensic Photographer
In the United States, crime labs may be publicly or privately operated, although private laboratories typically do not respond to crime scenes to collect evidence. Public crime labs are organized at the city, county, state, or national level. A law enforcement agency that does not operate its own crime lab usually has free access to a higher level laboratory for analysis of their evidence.
- Most states have their own crime labs, for instance Oklahoma has the OSBI, many other places have smaller yet still sufficient crime labs.
Well-known crime labs
Some well-known crime labs are:
- FBI Laboratory - under the jurisdiction of the FBI (located at FBI Headquarters; J. Edgar Hoover Building)
- Las Vegas Crime Lab - under the jurisdiction of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department
- Miami-Dade Crime Lab - under the jurisdiction of the Miami-Dade Police Department
- New York City Crime Lab - under the jurisdiction of the New York City Police Department
- Los Angeles Crime Lab - under the jurisdiction of the Los Angeles Police Department
- Forensic Science Training and Research Center - under the jurisdiction of the FBI (located at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia)
Crime labs in popular culture
The term "crime lab" has become a part of popular culture, largely due to the TV dramas. Some of the more famous shows are:
- CSI: Crime Scene Investigation
- CSI: Miami
- CSI: NY.
- NCIS (Tv Series)
- Quincy, M.E. - a 1970's television show featuring crime lab personnel and procedures
Several non-fiction television programs, document the resolution of criminal cases based on the scientific analysis of the evidence:
- FBI Crime Lab
- Arkansas State Crime Lab
- US Postal Service Forensic Lab
- Reddy's Forensic Page - link to US and international forensic laboratories