Wave Wire Services
LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Police Department celebrated 100 years of work performed by the LAPD’s Forensic Science and Technical Investigation divisions Oct. 23.
According to the LAPD, theirs was the first such crime lab in the country, and it is now the second-largest in the nation, behind only the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
LAPD Chief Michel Moore and other department officials gathered for a commemoration event at the Los Angeles Police Museum.
The department’s first crime lab was established in July of 1923 under then-LAPD Chief August Vollmer, according to the LAPD.
“Chief Vollmer believed that scientific analysis of evidence had a place in police work, so he ordered formation of the first crime lab in the United States,” the LAPD said. “The FBI crime laboratory was not established until seven years later.”
Vollmer reorganized the LAPD, laying the groundwork for what eventually became the Scientific Investigation Division, which later became the current Forensic Science Division.
During the 1930s and 1940s, the crime lab grew and diversified — adding criminalists, fingerprint specialists and forensic photographers to the staff — and the personnel became part of the Scientific Investigation Division.
During the 1950s, the City Council allocated funds for the building of new police facilities citywide. As soon as the Police Administration Building, later known as Parker Center, was completed in downtown Los Angeles, the Scientific Investigation Division moved into the building and the unit expanded.
By 1990, the Scientific Investigation Division had been divided into three entities: the Criminalistics Laboratory, the Technical Laboratory and the Explosives Section. The Firearms Unit was reorganized into the Criminalistics Laboratory and began civilianization, with criminalists replacing police officers.
By 2000, plans were initiated to create a regional crime lab facility to house the Criminalistics Laboratory as well as portions of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Scientific Services Bureau.
Construction of the regional crime laboratory facility was completed in 2007, and the facility was officially named the Hertzberg-Davis Forensic Science Center, located at 1800 Paseo Rancho Castilla.
The criminalistics laboratory is comprised of seven specialized units: the Field Investigation Unit, the Firearm Analysis Unit, the Narcotics Analysis Unit, the Serology/DNA Unit, the Toxicology Unit, the Trace Analysis Unit, and the Quality Assurance Unit. The criminalistics laboratory is accredited by the ANSI National Accreditation Board, and has been continuously accredited since 1998.
The LAPD Technical Investigation Division is headquartered at the C. Erwin Piper Technical Center, 555 Ramirez St. The Technical Laboratory is comprised of five specialized units: the Latent Print Unit, the Photographic Unit, the Polygraph Unit, the Electronics Unit, and the Quality Assurance Unit.
Most Technical Laboratory personnel operate out of Piper Technical Center, but some field services operate out of the Van Nuys Community Police Station.