The Forensic Unit of the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office utilizes the most current technology and equipment to obtain physical evidence for use in criminal investigations. Among the items the Forensic Unit may be relied upon to seize, analyze or compare are the following:
- Biological and Serological evidence (blood, semen, saliva);
- Impressions (tire markings, shoeprints, depressions in soft soil and other forms of tracks, glove and other fabric impressions and bite marks);
- Hair and Fiber;
- Firearms and Ammunition;
- Powder Residue (any item suspected of containing firearm discharge residues);
- Tool marks;
- Petroleum Products (most common example is gasoline removed from the scene of an arson).
The Forensic Unit responds to the scene of major crimes and is responsible for the crime scene examination. Additionally, this unit:s
- Assists all other investigative units of the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office as well as local, county and federal law enforcement agencies in Somerset County as needed;
- Attends autopsies in cases of homicide or suspicious deaths;
- Prepare crime scene diagrams;
- Photographs scene and evidence;
- Obtains DNA samples for testing.
The investigation of arsons and suspicious fires in Somerset County are conducted by the newly formed Fire Investigation Unit. The Fire Investigation Unit is supervised by members of the Forensic Unit, who are recognized experts in fire investigation. The Fire Investigation Unit is comprised of individuals from both the Law Enforcement and Fire Services community throughout Somerset County.
The Somerset County Prosecutor's Office has recently purchased an Automated Fingerprint Identification System (A.F.I.S.) terminal that will be directly connected to the New Jersey State Police A.F.I.S. The State Police operate a database of fingerprints on all persons arrested in the state. When a latent fingerprint is located at the scene of a crime,it can be sent through this terminal to the state and searched against the entire database in an attempt to identify the suspect.
Ballistic examinations are performed by the Forensic Unit to determine:
- Operability – Is the weapon capable of firing.
- Serial Number restoration – A chemical process is used to restore serial numbers, which have been deliberately defaced or obliterated.
- Microscopic Comparisons – Compare bullets and shell casings in an attempt to identify weapons used in a specific crime and to determine if there is any connection between this weapon and other crimes.
- The Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office has entered into a partnership with the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to operate the Integrated Ballistic Identification System (I.B.I.S.).
I.B.I.S. is a computerized weapons imaging system. As bullets and cartridge casings are received in the lab each is analyzed and each striation or marking, is measured, documented and stored in the I.B.I.S. database. Each marking pattern is unique to a particular weapon. The striations, which are like fingerprints, can be compared to those submitted into this national database.