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Physical Evidence Unit

The Physical Evidence Unit is the most diverse in the laboratory. It includes firearms, latent prints, and crime scene investigations. Scientists in the unit process physical evidence from crime scenes for latent prints, firearms identification, and trace evidence. Other specialty areas include tool marks, shoe print and tire track identification, serial number restoration, filament examinations and physical comparisons. The unit has two fully equipped crime scene vehicles and provides twenty-four hour assistance in crime scene processing to any law enforcement agency in the state. The unit also assists in the investigation of arson by providing chemical analysis of debris found at the scene of suspicious fires.  The Physical Evidence Unit also trains other agencies in evidence collection and handling and in crime scene investigation.

The Physical Evidence unit utilizes national databases for two major disciplines, firearms and fingerprint comparison.  The National Integrated Ballistics Information Network (NIBIN), the ATF’s computer network firearms tracking system, allows firearms examiners to link a cartridge case found at one crime scene to evidence found at a different crime scene or to a firearm recovered by law enforcement.

Currently, technicians from both the Baton Rouge Police Department and East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office work in the Physical Evidence Unit utilizing the NIBIN Database.  Through this system, other forensic laboratories in the state can enter or retrieve firearms evidence information and share this information among themselves and with labs throughout the country to track a particular weapon used in the commission of crimes in different cities or states. 

The Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) and the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS) allow latent fingerprints from a crime scene to be searched against known fingerprint records, at both the state and national level, to identify suspects in a crime.  AFIS and IAFIS also allow fingerprint analysts to search (compare) latent fingerprints from one crime scene to another.  AFIS and IAFIS can also be utilized to identify the remains of deceased individuals.  This was particularly useful after Hurricane Katrina.

Law enforcement agencies requesting assistance from a crime scene unit should contact their local State Police Troop.

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