In recognition of National Forensic Science Week, today we are highlighting the Central Regional Laboratory and several units that comprise our Forensic & Technical Services Section.
The Central Regional Laboratory, located in Hamilton, N.J., is the only full-service laboratory in the state analyzing drug, toxicology, fire debris, trace and forensic serology evidence.
The Drug Unit receives cases containing controlled dangerous substances that are analyzed for both quality and quantity. In 2021, the unit received 3,036 cases and completed 4,683 cases. Notable investigations include a January case that was linked to a ballistics case and contained more than 500 grams of fentanyl, a March case that had more than 100 pounds of marijuana and thousands of specimens of different types of hash products, and a May case that contained 2 kilograms of suspected fentanyl that was later proven to be noscapine, an alkaloidal by-product of heroin processing.
The Toxicology Unit receives cases containing blood, urine, and liquid samples (alcoholic beverages) that are analyzed for the presence of impairing compounds for DUI’s, DWI’s, and drug facilitated sexual assaults.
The Trace Unit receives cases containing fibers, glass, gunshot residue, hairs, impressions, paint, low explosives, and fire debris that are analyzed for the minute transfer of these materials which may not be seen with the unaided eye.
The Forensic Serology Unit receives cases containing biological evidence from burglaries, thefts, homicides, and sexual assaults that are analyzed for blood, semen, and epithelial cells and then sent to the DNA Laboratory for the development of DNA profiles.
The Toxicology Unit received and completed 529 cases. In 2021, the unit received 83 cases, 31 of which were arson related, and completed 92 cases. Notable cases include a double homicide case where glass from a suspect’s sneaker was compared and found to have the same class characteristics as the broken glass found at the scene, a June case when Trace scientists assisted in processing a car for gunshot residue linked to a drive-by shooting, and a November case when Trace scientists assisted in processing a tractor trailer for gunshot residue alleged to have been involved in a road rage incident.
The Forensic Serology Unit received 5,058 cases and completed 5,427 cases. Notable investigations include a July case when Forensic Serology scientists assisted in processing a car for blood that was thought to have been involved in a child abduction, an August case when Forensic Serology scientists assisted in processing a car for blood thought to have been involved in a murder, and the completion of a high-profile sexual assault case within a 24-hour timeframe.
Media and photos courtesy NJSP