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Accredited Health Department
Onondaga County Health Department is nationally accredited and meets rigorous public health standards necessary to best serve the needs of our community.

Forensic Laboratories

Info for Agencies

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Evidence Submission Guidelines

Evidence Collection Manual

The Wallie Howard Jr. Center for Forensic Sciences
100 Elizabeth Blackwell St., Syracuse, NY 13210
Phone (315) 435-3800

The Forensic Laboratories provide high quality scientific laboratory services in support of the administration of justice and public safety programs for the citizens of Onondaga and surrounding counties. The laboratories are accredited by the New York State Commission on Forensic Science and ANAB (ANSI National Accreditation Board; ANSI=American National Standards Institute) to the ANAB 17025:2017 Forensic Science Testing Laboratory Accreditation Requirements and to the FBI Quality Assurance Standards for Forensic DNA Testing Laboratories: 2020. The Forensic Laboratories are comprised of five disciplines: Digital Evidence, Firearms, Forensic Chemistry, Forensic Biology/DNA, and Latent Prints. These disciplines are responsible for analyzing physical evidence to assist in the investigation of crime for law enforcement agencies and the District Attorney’s office.

Digital Evidence

The Digital Evidence section examines submitted electronic media (e.g., hard drives, optical discs, flash memory, digital cameras, etc.) for the purposes of acquiring, retrieving, preserving, and presenting relevant data that has been electronically processed and stored on the item. The section also analyzes portable mobile devices including cell phones and tablets. Target data may be in the form of text, photographs, video, audio or any combination thereof.

The Firearms section examines firearms to determine the operability status of submitted weapons. Firearms examiners are also responsible for determining whether or not a projectile or casing recovered at a crime scene was fired from a particular firearm. The laboratory uses a computerized database, called the Integrated Ballistic Identification System, to aid in connecting shootings from different crime scenes. The section also provides serial number restoration analysis and target to muzzle distance determinations.


Forensic Chemistry
The Forensic Chemistry section analyzes powders, tablets, and plant material for the presence of controlled substances. This section is also responsible for analyzing fire debris and liquids collected in arson investigations to determine if accelerants are present.

Forensic Biology/DNA
The Forensic Biology/DNA section identifies bodily fluids on submitted evidence and performs DNA analysis on items of probative value to the case. Current DNA technologies can be used to link suspects to a crime or eliminate individuals from suspicion. The DNA laboratory serves as a local casework database site for entry and searching of profiles in the state and national Combined DNA Index System (CODIS). The CODIS database can be used to link unsolved crimes, identify a previously convicted offender as a contributor to crime scene DNA, or associate unidentified remains with missing persons.

Latent Prints
The Latent Print section is responsible for developing fingerprints, palm prints, and footprints from items of evidence using various chemicals, powders, dye stains, and light sources. The Latent Print section compares recovered latent prints to known fingerprints in order to identify individuals. Identification may involve searching unidentified latent fingerprints and palm prints in the Statewide Automated Biometric Identification System (SABIS). The section also provides identification verification services for the Medical Examiner’s Office, positively identifying decedents through fingerprint comparison.

*The Forensic Laboratories do not provide analysis for private citizens or for civil litigations.



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