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Forensic Services Bureau

Email: fsbinfo@mdpd.com
Stephanie Stoiloff, Senior Police Bureau Commander
9105 NW 25 Street, Room 2154
Doral, Florida 33172-1500 USA

Phone: 305-471-2050
Fax: 305-471-2052

The Miami-Dade Police Department (MDPD), Forensic Services Bureau (FSB), provides forensic services for the unincorporated areas of Miami-Dade County and 34 incorporated municipalities (Aventura, Bal Harbour, Bay Harbor Islands, Biscayne Park, Coral Gables, Cutler Bay, Doral, El Portal, Florida City, Golden Beach, Hialeah, Hialeah Gardens, Homestead, Indian Creek, Key Biscayne, Medley, Miami, Miami Beach, Miami Gardens, Miami Lakes, Miami Shores, Miami Springs, North Bay Village, North Miami, North Miami Beach, Opa-locka, Palmetto Bay, Pinecrest, South Miami, Sunny Isles Beach, Surfside, Sweetwater, Virginia Gardens and West Miami). The City of Miami is the largest municipality, followed by Hialeah, Miami Gardens, Miami Beach, North Miami and Coral Gables.

Crime Laboratory

The full service laboratory facility contains state-of-the-art scientific equipment, with 110 budgeted scientist and support staff positions.  The educational level of the scientific staff ranges from Bachelor of Science to Doctorate.  The mission of the laboratory is to provide scientific and technical support to the law enforcement community.

The laboratory is comprised of four sections: Analytical, Forensic Biology, Forensic Identification, and Fingerprint Identification.

Analytical Section

The Analytical Section, which is comprised of the Drug Analysis and Trace Evidence Units, is currently staffed with fourteen scientists. The Drug Analysis Unit is responsible for analyzing and identifying illicit, controlled and legend drug materials confiscated in Miami-Dade County by local law enforcement officers and federal agents operating within Miami-Dade County. Additionally, the Analytical Section is tasked with developing methods to identify emerging drugs, including synthetic cannabinoids and bath salts.

Controlled and illicit substances are those substances designated by the legislature of the State of Florida in the Florida State Substantive Laws, Chapter 893. Legend drugs are those substances that according to state and federal law require a prescription. In all drug cases, it is the primary objective of the scientist to conclusively identify any drug substances in a sample, including dangerous opioids and their analogs such as fentanyl and carfentanil. On average, over 500 drug case submissions are received by the Drug Analysis Unit per month.

The Trace Evidence Unit is responsible for the examination, analysis and comparison of evidence submitted from hit and run accidents, boating accidents, burglaries, robbery/home invasions, sexual assault and homicide cases, to name a few. Trace evidence, or evidentiary material that is transferred when objects come into contact during the commission of a crime, can show an association between an individual and a crime scene. Examples of trace evidence submitted in criminal cases include, but are not limited to, the subdisciplines of fiber, glass, paint, gunshot residue, and fracture fragment analysis.

Analysts in the Analytical Section undergo a rigorous training program ranging from six months to two years depending upon the forensic discipline/subdiscipline. The Drug Chemistry training program consists of lectures, individual reading, observations, hands on instrumentation, report writing, competency testing, supervised casework and court testimony preparation. The Trace Analysis training program includes lectures, preservation of trace evidence, instrumental analysis, report writing, and court testimony preparation. Both training programs measure learning using competency/written examinations, practical analytical exercises, supervised casework, and a mock trial.

The following websites offer additional information on the testing performed by this section:

Forensic Biology Section

The Forensic Biology Section routinely examines biological materials associated with homicide, sexual battery, robbery and property crime cases collected from crime scenes. The Forensic Biology Section uses conventional techniques and state-of-the-art robotics/instrumentation to screen biological evidence and conduct DNA analysis. The identification of blood, semen and saliva is accomplished with presumptive and confirmatory chemical tests, and Short Tandem Repeat (STR) DNA analysis is utilized to generate DNA profiles for both evidence samples and known standards. Qualifying DNA profiles are entered into the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS). To date, the FBS has entered over 36,500 DNA profiles into CODIS and provided over 7,900 investigative leads. Since the early 2000s, notable success has been obtained from DNA testing from property crime cases that has led to perpetrator identification in 30% of the unsolved cases searched in CODIS.

Scientists must complete a training program which includes lectures, laboratory exercises, court testimony preparation, and competency testing to qualify them as an expert witness. Learning is measured using practical exercises, written examinations and the successful completion of competency test(s) and a mock trial.

The following websites offer additional information and/or publications regarding the preservation of biological evidence, forensic DNA analysis, and CODIS:

Forensic Identification Section

The Forensic Identification Section is comprised of three distinct units. The Central Evidence Reception Facility is responsible for the intake, tracking and safe keeping of evidence that is submitted for forensic analysis. The Firearms Testing Unit is responsible for test firing and computer entry of all routine auto-loading firearms impounded by the MDPD and other municipalities into the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN). The Firearm and Toolmark Unit analyzes various firearm and ballistic evidence in order to identify which firearms were involved in a shooting, as well as identify same gun evidence. This Unit also performs serial number restorations, shooting distance determinations, toolmark analysis and shoe and tire track impression analysis. The Firearm and Toolmark Unit houses an exceptional firearms reference collection with over 3,000 weapons.

Both the NIBIN Firearms Testing Unit and the Firearm and Toolmark Unit participate in NIBIN, a computer imaging system owned by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, that allows the firearm and toolmark examiner to link shooting cases. Every auto-loading firearm confiscated in Miami-Dade County is test fired and searched against all of the images in the NIBIN system.

The Firearm and Toolmark Examiner Trainee undergoes an intensive two-year training program designed to provide the background to become a court qualified Firearm and Toolmark examiner. This training will enable the trainee to make determinations and give court testimony concerning physical evidence related to forensic investigations involving firearms and toolmarks. This training consists of reading selected literature, formal lectures, attendance at training seminars, related factory visits, research, observation, supervised completion of actual casework with critical review, and visitation to other laboratories to compare methodology and instrumentation. Learning is measured using practical exercises, written examinations and the successful completion of a competency test and a mock trial.

For an introduction to Forensic Firearm Identification and to perform virtual comparisons, go to http://www.firearmsid.com/.

Fingerprint Identification Section

The Fingerprint Identification Section is comprised of the Master File, Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS), and Latent Units.

Master File Unit
The Master File Unit is a 24/7 operation that is staffed by Fingerprint Analysts who are responsible for classifying, searching, analyzing, comparing, and evaluating fingerprints. Analysts use the AFIS and compare fingerprints from jail bookings that are submitted by the Corrections and Rehabilitation Department and Juvenile Services Department to determine identification, using current technology and traditional examination procedures. Assistance is also provided to the Medical Examiner Department to identify unknown deceased and to citizens whose identity has been compromised and are the victims of identity theft.

AFIS Unit
The AFIS Unit is responsible for maintaining the biometric portion of the Fingerprint Identification Section. The AFIS database contains more than 1,948,000 tenprint records, 1,147,000 palm print records, and 328,000 latent fingerprint records. In 2017, over 550 latent identifications were made using the AFIS.

The Latent Unit
The Latent Unit is responsible for evaluating physical evidence submitted from crime scenes for the presence of latent prints. Latent Fingerprint Examiners assigned to the Unit frequently use mechanical, chemical, and forensic light source methods to develop, visualize, and compare unknown latent prints to known standards using current AFIS technology and traditional examination procedures.

Additionally, Fingerprint Analysts and Latent Fingerprint Examiners provide expert testimony in courts of law regarding fingerprint examinations.

Fingerprint Analysts and Latent Examiners must complete a training program which includes lectures, laboratory exercises, court testimony preparation, and competency testing to qualify them as an expert witness. Learning is measured using practical exercises, written examinations and the successful completion of competency test(s) and a mock trial.

The following publication offers additional information about fingerprint identification:

 

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