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 American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors Laboratory Accreditation Board (ASCLD/LAB-International) and the New York State Commission on Forensic Science. The Forensic Laboratories are comprised of six disciplines: Latent Prints, Forensic Chemistry, Firearms, Trace Evidence, Digital Evidence, and Forensic Biology/DNA. 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.
The Latent Prints section is responsible for developing fingerprints and palmprints from items of evidence using various chemicals, powders, dye stains and light sources. The Latent Print section is also responsible for comparing recovered latent prints to known fingerprints of individuals for the purposes of identification. This can also be accomplished by searching unidentified latent fingerprints in the Statewide Automated Fingerprint Identification System (SAFIS).
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.
The Firearms section examines firearms to determine the operability status of weapons submitted. The firearms examiners are also responsible for comparing projectiles and fired components recovered at a crime scene, to test fires from a gun using a comparison microscope for the purposes of determining whether the recovered casing or projectile was fired from the gun in question. The laboratory uses a computerized database called the Integrated Ballistic Identification System to aid in connecting shootings from different crime scenes.
The Trace Evidence Section examines evidence items for the purposes of recovering and comparing hairs, fibers and glass. Questioned hairs and fibers are usually compared microscopically to known hair or fiber standards to determine whether the questioned hair or fiber could possibly share a common origin with the known standard.
The Digital Evidence section examines submitted electronic media (e.g., hard drives, optical discs, flash memory, digital cameras, etc.) for the purposes of acquiring, preserving, retrieving, and presenting relevant data that has been processed electronically and stored on the item. The target data may be in the form of text, photographs, video, audio or any combination thereof.
The Forensic Biology/DNA section receives biological evidence as part of homicide, sexual assault, burglary, and other types of criminal investigations. The section identifies bodily fluids 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. In addition, the DNA laboratory serves as a local casework database site for entry and searching of profiles in the national Combined DNA Index System (CODIS). This database can be used to link unsolved crimes to each other, identify a previously convicted offender as a contributor of the crime scene DNA, or to associate unidentified remains with missing persons.
*The Forensic Laboratories do not provide analysis for private citizens or for civil litigations.