The Bureau of Criminal Investigations Crime Scene Unit (CSU) is an integral part of the Bergen County Sheriff’s Office, as well as the entire law enforcement community of Bergen County. Accomplished in all fields of forensic evidence, the CSU is capable of processing virtually every type of crime scene while serving the 70 municipalities of Bergen County.
The CSU continues to respond to all major crimes investigated by the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office. The Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office Arson Squad, Fatal Accident Unit, Sex Crimes Unit, and Homicide Squad all utilize CSU when conducting criminal investigations. Additionally, the New Jersey State Police, federal agencies including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Transportation Safety Board, Federal Aviation Administration, and many other law enforcement agencies in the tri-state area also depend upon the expertise and experience of CSU personnel.
The Crime Scene Unit’s staff consists of trained professionals in the field of forensics, inclusive of evidence collection, photography, and fingerprint processing. A civilian support staff also greatly contributes to the day-to-day operations of the CSU.
CRIME SCENE INVESTIGATIONS
The major function of CSU operations is the processing of crime scenes for fingerprint evidence, and locating and securing biological and trace evidence. All evidence must be handled and secured in a manner consistent with the requirements for laboratory and/or D.N.A. evaluation. Field investigations also include the use of metal detection devices to locate weapons, bullets, and other types of metal-based evidence. CSU personnel, through the use of L.A.S.E.R. technology and traditional ballistic techniques, also perform projectile trajectory.
Upon completion of field assignments, CSU personnel must then complete necessary in-house support work. Some examples of support work include chemical enhancements of evidence (fingerprints, trace evidence), photography, fingerprint comparison, crime scene sketches and related report writing. CSU personnel are frequently called upon to testify in court as experts in fingerprint identification, as well as for other forensic disciplines.
Another area of the CSU’s responsibility is the handling and processing of submitted evidence, which has been recovered and secured by other law enforcement agencies and submitted to the CSU for processing. When the processing of evidence is completed, it is returned to the submitting agency with a written report containing the results of the examination. This report is usually used in court, along with the expert testimony of the CSU detective who processed the evidence.
ARSON / FIRE SCENE INVESTIGATIONS
Whenever the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office Arson Squad is called to a fire scene, CSU detectives respond as well. Fire scenes can be difficult and potentially dangerous scenes to process, as the fire-damaged structure itself must be entered in order to process the scene. At times, these investigations are conducted under the most extreme of conditions, including inclement weather, heat, freezing cold, darkness, and occasionally during incidents where the fire has not yet been completely extinguished.
CSU personnel not only conduct photographic examinations at scenes, but also collect evidence, assist with the recovery of human remains and search for fingerprint evidence.