Episode 6: The “Real CSI” and Forensic Analysis at the Crime Lab (pt. 1)

Description: Crime Lab Director Chip Pollock shares his background and career path to his current role.  He gives an overview of the Crime Lab, including what’s unique about the lab, the main areas of analysis conducted, who and how requests/evidence is submitted for analysis and the role of a Crime Lab in criminal cases.

Show Notes:  Chip shares how he started down the road of science, his education, how he got interested in criminal forensic science and his path into the field.  With a college background in biochemistry, he was able to go right into the field of forensic science.

He began his career at the Contra Costa Sheriff’s Office working in forensic toxicology.  He went on to work as a criminalist at the California Department of Justice Crime Lab.   In 2001, Chip came to the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Crime Lab.

Some unique aspects of the DA’s Crime Lab include that it is only one of four in the state managed by a District Attorney’s Office.  It also has advanced equipment for trace evidence analysis, which most other labs don’t have.  While other labs are decreasing investment in trace evidence, DA Schubert supports the mission of maintaining a top accredited trace evidence lab and cases have benefited.

Main areas of analysis at the Crime Lab:  1) Comparative Evidence – firearms and tool marks, 2) Chemistry – controlled substances/drugs, 3) Toxicology – forensic alcohol and forensic toxicology, 4) Crime Scene Response Team – on call 24 hours/day, 5) DNA/Biology – sex assaults, cold cases, etc. and 6) Trace Evidence – gunshot residue, glass, fiber, etc.

Chip talks about the Crime Lab’s rape kit testing team, the process of testing kits and when kits are analyzed.  He also explains ways requests/evidence comes into lab for analysis, including from deputy district attorneys, law enforcement agencies and the Coroner’s Office.

There are currently 41 criminalists who process thousands of pieces of evidence per year – prioritizing analysis based on what will provide the most important information/answers.  Chip explains the Crime Lab’s role in a criminal case is to be the objective/science-based component to provide answers to questions.

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Tags: District Attorney, Cold Cases, Cold Case Prosecutions, DNA, DNA Evidence, DNA Hit, Forensic Science, True Crime, Justice Journal, Trace Evidence, Crime Lab, Crime Scene Investigation, CSI