The Department of Public Safety Crime Laboratory started as a one-chemist operation established in 1937 at Austin's Camp Mabry. Since then, it has developed into a comprehensive forensic laboratory system with labs at 16 different locations across the state of Texas.
Standard areas of analysis include:
- Trace evidence (i.e., hair, fibers, paint, glass, gunshot residue, impressions, fire debris, etc.)
- Digital/multimedia evidence
- Firearms and toolmarks
- Friction ridge analysis
- Forensic documents
- Seized drugs
These services are provided at various laboratory locations around the state which are strategically located for optimal access and support to the criminal justice community.
Our support of investigative capabilities are further enhanced by the integration and exchange of local, state, regional, and national information via individualizing databases, including the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) and the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS).
The Crime Laboratory also includes the Breath Alcohol Laboratory (BAL) and its Office of the Scientific Director (OSD). The BAL and OSD are legislatively charged with administering a statewide judicially acceptable forensic breath alcohol test program for the Crime Laboratory and for programs operating outside of the DPS Crime Laboratory System.
Strategic Goals and Objectives
Strategic goals and objectives of the Laboratory include, but are not limited to:
- Issuance of timely and accurate testing reports and/or calibration certificates, including the release of sexual assault kit testing reports within 90 days of submission;
- Improvement of the management of Laboratory records, information, and access to statistical data;
- Maintenance of a high level of quality control for Laboratory operations;
- Enhancement and encouragement of the use of contemporary, progressive scientific capabilities for testing and calibration services;
- Utilize the principals of lean manufacturing for standardization of operations across the Laboratory System;
- Improvement of the cost effectiveness of operations;
- Administration of the Texas Breath Alcohol Testing Regulations;
- Administration of the Texas CODIS Program; and
- Maintenance of the quality reference material production, storage, and distribution.
The Crime Laboratory Division is comprised of approximately 660 personnel. New Crime Lab employees are provided intensive training before being approved to examine evidence. The length of initial training depends on the forensic scientist's areas of analysis. Some areas of analysis, such as seized drugs, may take approximately twelve months, while other areas, such as firearms or forensic document examinations, may take up to 24 months. Forensic scientists assist law enforcement agencies with crime scene investigations, provide training to criminal justice system, analyze physical evidence in criminal cases, and present results of analyses through courtroom testimony.