About DFS

color squareThe Department of Forensic Science (DFS) is a nationally accredited forensic laboratory system, established by Virginia law, to provide forensic laboratory services to the Commonwealth’s state and local law enforcement agencies, medical examiners, Commonwealth’s Attorneys, fire departments, and state agencies in the investigation of any criminal matter.  By law, DFS provides services to federal investigatory agencies to the extent its resources allow.  DFS scientists provide technical assistance and training, evaluate and analyze evidence, interpret results, and provide expert testimony related to the analyses of physical evidence recovered from crime scenes and submitted for examination.

Mission and Values

The Department of Forensic Science’s mission is to provide laboratory services in criminal matters in the Commonwealth of Virginia, support the criminal justice system with quality and timely services, and advance the understanding of forensic science in order to promote public safety.

The Department is committed to:

  • Quality
  • Integrity
  • Impartiality

History

In 1970, a survey by the International Association of Chiefs of Police demonstrated a need for a statewide forensic laboratory system in Virginia. Two years later, an act of the General Assembly created the Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services (DCLS), which included a Bureau of Forensic Science. The new Bureau absorbed the Commonwealth’s existing drug and toxicology laboratories in addition to providing other forensic services.

In 1990, the rapidly expanding Bureau was elevated to Division status. In 1996, the Division transferred from the Department of General Services (DGS) to the Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS). In 2005, the Division was elevated to Department status under the Governor’s Secretary of Public Safety. DFS continues to provide comprehensive forensic laboratory services to over 400 law enforcement agencies in the Commonwealth, while remaining independent of any of them.

Milestones

1974

  • The Virginia Forensic Science Academy conducts its first session

1984

  • A Forensic Science graduate program at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) is established

1988

  • Virginia establishes one of the first Driving Under the Influence of Drugs (DUID) programs
  • DFS earns accreditation from the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors Laboratory Accreditation Board (ASCLD/LAB)

1989

  • DFS is the first state laboratory to offer DNA analyses to law enforcement agencies, and the first to create a DNA databank of previously convicted sex offenders
  • Construction completed on a new Northern Virginia Regional Laboratory in Fairfax

1992

  • Virginia is a pilot state for a National DNA Databank (CODIS) and for the FBI’s automated firearms comparison database (DRUGFIRE)

1994

  • A “cold hit” from the DNA databank results in a conviction, and Virginia becomes the first state to discontinue traditional serology in favor of DNA testing

1995

  • Construction completed on a new Western Virginia Regional Laboratory in Roanoke

1998

  • Virginia’s DNA databank identifies a perpetrator in Florida for the first interstate “cold hit”
  • Construction completed on a new Central Virginia Regional Laboratory in Richmond

1999

  • Creation of the Virginia Institute of Forensic Science and Medicine (VIFSM)

2000

  • First graduating class of VIFSM
  • Construction completed on a new Eastern Virginia Regional Laboratory in Norfolk

2002

  • On November 13th, the DNA Databank records its 1,000th “hit”

2003

  • Effective January 1st, persons arrested for violent felonies/property crimes must submit a DNA sample upon arrest

2005

  • July 1st, Department of Forensic Science created

2009

  • DFS earns International accreditation from the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors Laboratory Accreditation Board (ASCLD/LAB) and becomes one of the first laboratories to earn accreditation of its Breath Alcohol Calibration Laboratory
  • Construction completed on a new Northern Virginia Regional Laboratory in Manassas

2011

  • The Central Laboratory facility is renamed the Paul B. Ferrara building in honor of the late director
  • Familial DNA Search capability is added

2015

  • In April, the DNA Databank records its 10,000th “hit”