R.W. “Doc” Nebergall
1939 – 1957
R.W. “Doc” Nebergall was hired as Chief of the BCI when it became part of the Iowa Department of Public Safety.
Royce W. Nebergall, who idolized J. Edgar Hoover and later became known as the “J. Edgar Hoover of Iowa” because of his vast experience in Iowa law enforcement, served for 18 years, until 1957.
Nebergall, a former Story County Sheriff, was fascinated with the scientific approach to solving crime.
In 1941, for example, he built a gadget out of radio, junk car and camera parts that could take photographs of fingerprints on irregularly shaped objects, like doorknobs. The gizmo cost the state $5.10.
Nebergall is still revered by many current DCI personnel as the man who took the agency out of politics. “Doc” Nebergall made the most progress toward building the professional investigatory base present in the DCI today. “That man did more for the educated professional peace officer in this state, most certainly this state government, than all the rest of us put together”, said J.P. “Pat” Tighe, who joined the BCI in 1956.
Although the technical laboratory, by today’s standards, was severely understaffed and outdated in the early 1940s, science began to play a slightly more significant role in criminal detection and apprehension.
At the beginning of the year 1939, the Bureau of Criminal Investigation was entirely reorganized with the view in mind of increasing the efficiency of the department and of raising the standard of its services to the highest possible level.
In the selection of members of the staff every effort was made to secure the services of men and women of experience, proven ability and unquestioned integrity.
The resultant commendation from good citizens and condemnation from the underworld eloquently discloses the results accomplished by care used in the selection of personnel and the soundness of the program of reorganization.
IMAGE_Director R.W. “Doc” Nebergall reviewing an agent’s case report.
The Bureau of Criminal Investigation was never created as a local policing unit, but was instead intended as a specialized Bureau or Agency to correlate the activities of the many local agencies in cases of major importance and to furnish specially trained officers to reinforce and assist local officers in difficult criminal investigations.
By far, the majority of cases upon which this department has performed investigative work are referred to the department by Sheriffs over the state with a request for assistance.
A sheriff who requests aid in a difficult investigation expects and has the right of services of a trained agent of proven ability, not the blundering assistance of an amateur or of a storybook detective with fantastic theories. With that fact in mind, only men of proven experience and ability were appointed special agents of this department.
IMAGE_Fingerprint Technician Arnold Cutkomp at his desk examining a fingerprint card. This photo was taken in June, 1950 at the BCI office when it was located on the 3rd floor of the State Capitol.
Upon the request of a local sheriff, chief of police or county attorney, a Special Agent of the Bureau of Criminal Investigation is given a definite assignment to assist that officer in the investigation of the specific case. Special Agents are instructed to, so far as possible and practicable, complete their investigation and to exhaust available clues before suspects are taken into custody.
Daily reports are required from all Special Agents, which reports are carefully studied by the Chief of the Bureau of Criminal Investigation and often carefully reviewed with the Special Agent before the arrest is made. As a result of this method of operation, few individuals are arrested by the crime and fewer yet are those charged with the crime who are not subsequently convicted. As a matter-of-fact, a great majority of the cases wherein Special Agents have performed investigative work are disposed of on pleas of guilty as charged. Anyone familiar with court procedure and the cost of lengthy criminal trials will readily recognize the tremendous saving to the taxpayers of the state by reason of the prompt disposition of cases on pleas of “Guilty” as above mentioned.
IMAGE_Examination of the handwriting appearing on
Advancements were made in the comparison of handwriting samples, forged checks and typewriter specimens. Additionally, these technical improvements saved investigators several days of field investigation. Requests for technical assistance from county sheriffs and local police departments also rose sharply.
A peace officer’s short course, first taught in the summer of 1940, was credited for the increase.
At that course, officers could sign up for a variety of special classes, including: general criminal investigation, fingerprinting, photography, and personal combat tactics. Solving several types of crimes would have been virtually impossible without these technological advancements, according to a 1942 DCI annual report.
IMAGE_Photographic Laboratory Technician, operating large laboratory type camera. This type equipment is used to photograph handwriting or typewriting.
Despite these improvements, the laboratory still left much to be desired. Attempts to gather technical evidence were often hampered by the lack of technical experts and equipment available. As a result, much of the material used in the technical laboratory was “Doc” Nebergall’s personal property – including over 200 pistols, revolvers and hundreds of cartridge casings which were used for firearms comparisons.
IMAGE_Weapons used by BCI officers – Lucas State Bldg.
The message was written on the back of the original photo by Robert Blair.
BCI CRIME LAB OPENS FOR BUSINESS
Operation of the new Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) Criminalistics Laboratory started February 15, 1971, when Mike Rehberg, then chief chemist at the Wisconsin State Crime Laboratory, was hired as the Lab Administrator for $13,800 a year. The facility was moved to the second floor of a brick building located on the corner of E. 7th Street and Court Avenue in May.
The Criminalistics Laboratory was created by statute in July of 1969 (Code of Iowa – Chapter 691). Funding enabling the implementation of the laboratory was not obtained until July 1970.
Two chemists and laboratory administrator were added during the first part of 1971 to an existing cadre of three special agents to create the nucleus of the first BCI Criminalistics Laboratory. Three special agents from the BCI performed analyses in documentation examination, latent impression analysis, forensic photography, firearms/tool marks identification and crime scene investigation.
The chemists began work in street drugs, crime scene, trace evidence, serology and blood alcohol. By 1972, the lab staff totaled eight and added specialties of forensic serology, urine alcohol, toxicology and soil analysis.
Aided by grants from the Federal Law Enforcement Assistance Act (LEAA), the laboratory now operates on an annual budget of $225,000 with 40% of the funding supplied by the state.
_IMAGE_BCI Crime Lab – East 7th & Court, Des Moines, Iowa
The facility has 3,200 feet of floor space and about $80,000 worth of instruments, including a $35,000 “emission spectrograph with laser source.” This gadget “excites the elements in a sample so they can be analyzed,” Rehberg explains.
His staff includes Chemists Rozetta R. Hallcock, Stephen C. Eck and Dennis Chapman; Special Agents Andrew Newquist (firearms and tools examiner), Thomas Randolph (photography); Kay Smith, secretary; Sandra Wagaman, clerk, and R.C. Miller, laboratory aide.
_IMAGE_TO OBTAIN MARKINGS, Andrew Newquist, firearms and tool examiner at the crime lab, fires a .38-caliber Colt Detective special revolver into an 18-inch batch of wet cotton which will preserve the slug.
STATION WAGON PURCHASED AS CRIME SCENE VEHICLE
One station wagon was purchased and marked and will be used as another crime scene vehicle.
Two mobile crime scene laboratory vans were purchased in 1976 to respond to about 65 major cases a year. These units are stocked with all of the supplies and equipment needed for crime scene processing. They are used most often on death cases throughout the state.
DPS WORKS WELL IN FLIGHT 232 CRASH
On July 19, 1989, at 4:01 p.m., United Flight 232 crashed on a runway at the Sioux Gateway Airport in Sioux City, Iowa. (There were 296 passengers on board – 184 people survived; 112 died). The Iowa Department of Public Safety dispatched members of the DCI Criminalistics Laboratory and DCI Special Agents to assist many other agencies in the recovery and identification of the victims. The crash site was measured to establish victim locations. A team of more than 20 DPS employees, including DCI laboratory personnel, along with DCI and DNE special agents, participated in grid set-up, body acquisition and the collection of personal effects at the scene. Once the preservation of the victims was completed, they were taken to a morgue where the team participated in autopsies and identification of victims in cooperation with State Medical Examiner Dr. Thomas Bennett, other forensic odontologists and morticians. By July 23rd, all 112 victims of the disaster had been identified.
DCI Crime Laboratory Administrator Mike Rehberg said, “The process was handled in an expedient, professional manner and has been recognized by authorities from throughout the United States.”
Personnel who participated: DCI Special Agents Dan Moser, Mike Morris (local coordinator), Tom Randolph, Ron Forrest, Don Shreffler, Julie Hamilton, Wright Smith, Larry Sauer, Tom Randolph and Larry Mullen, Criminalist Supervisors Robert Harvey and Sandy Stoltenow, Criminalists Dennis Chapman, Deborah Hewitt, Bob Monserrate, Vic Murillo, Frank Tarasi and Jerry Hetrick and Photo Processor Tim Day.
_IMAGE_Standing left to right: Criminalists Jerry Brown and John Kilgore, Special Agents Dan Moser, Tim Shannon and Mike Morris (local coordinator); Criminalists Robert Harvey, Dennis Chapman and Deborah Hewitt, Photo Processor Tim Day, Criminalists Robert Monserrate and Vic Murillo. Kneeling are Paul Steinbach, Autopsy Assistant, State Medical Examiner, and Special Agent Tom Randolph. (Not pictured are Criminalists Frank Tarasi, Sandra Stoltenow and Jerry Hetrick; and Special Agents Ron Forrest, Don Shreffler, Julie Hamilton, Wright Smith, Larry Sauer and Larry Mullen
CRIME SCENE TEAM GETS NEW WHEELS
The Crime Scene Team of the DCI Criminalistics Laboratory got a new crime scene van in August. The new 1992 Ford van replaces a 1986 Ford van that is scheduled to be refurbished as a “back-up”.
The new van carries a compliment of equipment that ranges from small “dusting” brushes for latent print examination to an alternate light source that is used for several types of examinations at the crime scene. Photography and lighting equipment is also stored in the van.
THE IGNITION INTERLOCK DEVICE OF IOWA
(Excerpt of an article by Calvin M. Rayburn, Criminalist)
In 1988, the Iowa Legislature passed the bill authorizing the use of Ignition Interlock Devices in the state. An Ignition Interlock Device (IID) is a device installed in a vehicle that requires the driver to provide a breath sample before the vehicle can be started. The driver basically must have no alcohol on their breath before the vehicle can be started. The Commissioner of the Iowa Department of Public Safety was given the task of setting rules and regulations on the IIDs. The law covered who could ask for an IID, and the procedures for having one installed.
So far, the individuals who have the IIDs installed are those who have been arrested for OWI more than once. If they want to obtain a driving permit, they are required to go to court and request a court order to have an IID installed.
After they obtain a court order, that person then contacts the installer, who installs the unit and trains the person and other family members who wish to drive the vehicle on its use. The person then takes the court order and proof of the installation of the IID to the Iowa Department of Transportation, and obtains a permit to drive. The permit allows that person to operate a motor vehicle, but only one with an IID installed. The IID is normally installed for one to two years, with the average time being 13 months.
The IID user is responsible for all the costs involved. The cost breaks down to $50 for installation; $25 for monthly calibration fees; $30 for monthly lease fees; and $3 for monthly theft protection (optional). This brings the cost of leasing the IID to $746 for one year. The IID user is also required to pay a $100 victim reparation civil penalty to the Iowa Department of Transportation at the time the permit is issued.
At this time there is only one company, Ignition Interlock Systems of Iowa, Inc., installing the approved IIDs.
Since the law went into effect on July 1, 1998, 1,215 IIDs have been installed. As of December 5, 1991, eight IIDs have been removed because the drivers violated the conditions of the court order. A total of 774 IIDs have been removed at the successful completion of the court order.
So far, only one driver with an IID installed has been re-arrested for OWI and he was driving a vehicle that did not have an IID installed.
Commissioner Paul Wieck II recently announced that he has given the go ahead to the DCI to acquire DNA analysis capabilities in the DCI Criminalistics Laboratory. Funding for this will be primarily from the proceeds of assets forfeited to DPS.
Although many Iowa cases could benefit from DNA analysis, speedy trial considerations often preclude its use because until our system is set up, we must rely on the FBI for such analysis.
Acquiring the equipment/facilities for DNA analysis has been something that the DCI has wanted to do for some time.
Unfortunately, the funds required for equipment and supplies and remodeling of existing facilities to accommodate the equipment has not been available until now.
The ultimate goal is to develop a local DNA data bank similar to that maintained for fingerprints. The DCI lab currently has several criminalists who have been trained in DNA analysis techniques.
According to Commissioner Wieck, II, “DNA analysts will provide a significant new capability to our departmental arsenal, and in all likelihood lead to resolution of more cases, and certainly to the acquisition of more formidable evidence in many others.”
DCI GETS IBIS COMPUTER
Through the work of Congressman Jim Ross Lightfoot and research of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), the DCI acquired a new computer system. It is called IBIS (Integrated Bullet Identification System), and provides computerized storage and search of fired bullet and cartridge case data. This will allow us to search bullets and cartridge casings from crime scenes in the same way AFIS (Automated Fingerprint Identification System) allows us to search latent prints.
(Photos taken at Press Conference on June 21, 1996)
Governor Terry Branstad Director Darwin Chapman
Congressman Jim Ross Lightfoot
DCI LABORATORY RECEIVES ACCREDITATION
Culminating the work of more than five years, by more than 50 people, the Division of Criminal Investigation’s Criminalistics Laboratory has achieved Accreditation by the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors/Laboratory Accreditation Board (ASCLD/LAB).
Accreditation by the ASCLD/LAB is granted only after a thorough evaluation of a laboratory’s operation has been completed.
This evaluation includes a review of the facility, management practices, personnel qualifications, technical procedures, and the quality assurance program. The DCI’s Criminalistics Laboratory was accredited in the disciplines of controlled substances, toxicology, trace evidence, DNA, questioned documents, latent prints and firearms/tool marks.
In a letter to DCI Lab Administrator Mike Rehberg, ASCLD/LAB Chair Anthony Longhetti notes that the DCI Criminalistics Laboratory meets or exceeds the standards for accreditation as set forth by the ASCLD/LAB. The accreditation is good for a period of five years.
Rehberg noted that without each laboratory and DCI staff member writing, handling meetings, attending classes, teaching, test taking, filing, planning, following through, and going the extra mile this significant accomplishment would not have been possible. This was truly a team effort. So why seek such an accreditation? Rehberg notes that accreditation is sought for two main reasons, “First for self-satisfaction and acceptance by their peers.
Second, so one can have proof greater than “Rehberg said so,” that the DCI Laboratory performs forensic science work that meets and/or exceeds national/international standards and expectations of quality, correctness and good science.”
REHBERG TO RETIRE
After nearly 30 years with the Department of Public Safety, DCI Lab Administrator Mike Rehberg has announced he will retire.
Mike was asked to give some insight into his time with DPS:
The Iowa Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) Criminalistics Laboratory was created by stature in July of 1969, however funding enabling the implementation of the laboratory was not obtained until July 1970. Two chemists and I were added in early 1971 to an existing cadre of three special agents – creating the nucleus of the first BCI Criminalistics Laboratory. Three special agents from the BCI performed analyses in document examination, latent impression analysis, forensic photography, firearms/tool marks identification, and crime scene investigation.
The chemists began work in street drugs, crime scene, trace evidence, serology and blood alcohol.
The laboratory was created in response to a need for forensic science services in the state of Iowa, and was started as the result of the diligent work of the director of the BCI, Mr. Robert Blair. It was placed in the Department of Public Safety by Governor Robert Ray.
By 1972, we had a multi-service laboratory in the State Archives Building.
The laboratory staff, which then numbered eight, was performing forensic analysis in all of the specialties noted previously, as well as forensic serology, urine alcohol and toxicology. The laboratory grew, not only in physical size (from 4,000 square feet to 9,000 square feet), but in personnel size as well (from 8 to 15 staff members).
By 1977, the laboratory could truly be called a “full-service crime laboratory”, performing all kinds of forensic science. To the specialties noted above, there had been added evidential breath testing, expanded forensic serology and trace evidence analysis, and the maintenance of a 3,000 gun firearms reference file.
In May of 1978, a new Division of Criminal Investigation Laboratory was completed in the Wallace State Office Building. This laboratory had 10,000 square feet and a staff of 22. It was a full-service crime laboratory, which outgrew this floor space in the first five years.
The BCI was consolidated with other plain-clothes police investigative services in 1977, and named the Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI). In the 30 years since it was implemented, the laboratory’s operating budget has grown from approximately $150,000 per year to the current $3.2 million per year. Initial funding through the Law Enforcement Assistance Act (LEAA) was critical to help establish laboratory premises, security and purchase instrumentation.
Through the years the laboratory has also utilized funding from the Federal Department of Transportation (DOT) via the Governor’s Traffic Safety Bureau (GTSB), and funding for crime laboratory improvement from the Governor’s Alliance on Substance Abuse (GASA), now known as Governor’s Office of Drug Control Policy (ODCP).
Further support has been obtained through the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) for DNA profiling instrumentation and High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) grants for methamphetamine enforcement and methamphetamine clandestine laboratory enforcement.
At the present time, the laboratory exists at the same location and has been expanded to approximately 16,000 square feet.
The staff of the laboratory has grown to 55, including lab administrator, 4 criminalist supervisors, 35 criminalists, 5 evidence technicians, 4 crime scene technicians and 2 photographers.
We are in the process of moving one half of the lab to rental space for the next five years. This facility was called the SLAB (South Lab) as it was located on the south side of Des Moines.
The “new science center” for all Des Moines labs (Health, Agriculture, Medical Examiner and DCI Crime Lab) should be a reality in approximately five years. We recently became accredited and are a living, growing and changing entity. With the help of the Executive Branch, the Legislative Branch, some federal grants and some hard work and tenacity we will persevere.
We have added services that include DNA profiling, DNA data basing (CODIS), firearms computer search (NIBIN), computer crime investigation, computer evidence tracking (CRIMES), forensic education support for the criminal justice system (CJS) and the new Datamaster cdm evidential breath program (EBT).
On September 10, 2000, the laboratory was accredited by the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors, Laboratory Accreditation Board (ASCLD/LAB), the 232nd laboratory to receive this honor.
What is around the corner? More of the same! More growth, more change, new science, more cases for all the specialties in the lab, and more excitement. It has been fun, and it will be fun to watch from the sidelines as the workers do more for our customers every day.
Forensic science can be addictive. We must remember never to become complacent about the importance of what we do. When you see it day in and day out, you can become inured to crime. We must never let that happen.
BROWN NAMED NEW LAB ADMINISTRATOR
In March of 2001, Jerry Brown was selected to succeed Mike Rehberg as the new Laboratory Administrator for the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation’s Criminalistics Laboratory. Mike retired in December of 2000.
Jerry has been a member of the Iowa Department of Public Safety’s Criminal Investigation Division for the past 26 years. He began his career with the state of Iowa in 1975 as a Criminalist/Questioned Document Examiner. In 1984, Brown was promoted to a Criminalist Supervisor within the Criminalistics Laboratory, and was currently in charge of the Identification, Computer and Document Sections. He was also a working document examiner.
Director Chapman stated, “Jerry is an extraordinary person, his commitment to the laboratory, both as a teacher and as a supervisor is exceptional. Jerry’s dedication and hard work have helped make our laboratory what it is today. I am proud to have Jerry as the Lab Administrator. His experience will bring new vision to the laboratory as we strive to better serve the people of Iowa.”
GROUNDBREAKING HELD FOR NEW LAB
A groundbreaking ceremony for the new Iowa Laboratories facility was held on July 29, 2002
When completed, the $51.8 million dollar structure will house the Division of Criminal Investigation’s Criminalistics Laboratory, Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, State Medical Examiner’s Office and the University of Iowa Hygienic Laboratory.
The nearly 176,000-square foot complex is being built on 22 acres at the Des Moines Area Community College campus. Work began in June and a completion date is anticipated to be in December of 2004.
Those attending the ceremony included Governor Tom Vilsack, General Services Director Richard Haines, Ankeny City Mayor Merle Johnson, DMACC President Dr. David England, Commissioner Kevin Techau, University of Iowa Hygienic Lab Director Dr. Mary Gilchrist, State Medical Examiner Dr. Julia Goodin, DCI Director Darwin Chapman, DCI Lab Administrator Jerry Brown, and former DCI Lab Administrator Mike Rehberg.
Kneeling: Criminalists Bob Monserrate, Pat Krahn, Jim Bleskacek, Evidence Tech Melissa Ozimek, Criminalists Amy Johnson, Bridget Lewis, Marie Sides and Orville Berbano; 2nd row: Commissioner Kevin Techau, Retired Lab Administrator Mike Rehberg, Evidence Tech Marcia Morton, Criminalists Terry Rowe, Gene Czarnecki, Carl Bessman, Evidence Techs Cheryl Shipman and Dottie Giannetto, Criminalists John Kilgore, Traci Murano, Becky Maffett, Erica Ng, Evidence Tech Nancy Bowman, Criminalist Steve Eck and Director Darwin Chapman; 3rd row: Criminalists Paul Hermsen, Steve O’Brien, Lab Administrator Jerry Brown, Criminalists Jess Dunn, Mike Schmit, Linda Knittig, Criminalist Supervisor Mike Peterson, Criminalists Dennis Chapman, Mike Tate, Karl Franzenburg, Clerk Specialist Garnett Wheeler, Criminalists Becky Maffett, Kristi Evans, Vic Murillo, Photographer Susan Kopecky, Criminalist Supervisor Bob Harvey, Criminalists Kelli Bodwell, Chris Schmidt, Mike Halverson, Scott Stocksleger and Bruce Reeve
On October 29, 2002, the DNA section of the DCI Laboratory performed the first upload of DNA profiles to NDIS. This represents the culmination of a more then 2-year project to become a full participant in the CODIS system.
CODIS stands for the Combined DNA Index System and is composed of DNA profiles stored in smaller databases called indexes. The smallest index is termed LDIS for Local DNA Index System, followed by SDIS (State DNA Index System) and NDIS (National DNA Index System). Data stored in the indexes commonly consist of convicted offender profiles and forensic unknown profiles.
The value of the system is that it provides the ability to search one against the other, not only on a state basis, but also once sample profiles have been transferred to the NDIS level, to search the data offered by other NDIS participants – soon to be that from all 50 states as well as the federal government.
DCI CRIME LAB MOVES TO ANKENY
The DCI Criminalistics Laboratory moved to their new building in Ankeny in March of 2005.
CRIMINALISTICS LABORATORY – PROFILING CONVICTED OFFENDERS AND WEB-BASED REPORTING
In June 2005, legislation was passed requiring all convicted felons to provide a specimen for a DNA database. It fell upon the DCI laboratory to perform the analysis of these samples and to manage the database. The second half of calendar year 2005, was used developing the infrastructure – facilities, equipment, personnel, processes and procedures – to address the increased number of samples. Infrastructure was essentially in place by March 2006.
Jerry Brown Retires
A retirement party was held in Lab Administrator Jerry Brown’s honor on December 23, 2005.
Jerry was an integral part of the DCI Laboratory since he began in January 1975, and most recently as the DCI Lab Administrator since March 2001.
He has accomplished many things during his tenure with the DCI, most notably all of his hard work in the preparation and eventual successful move into the long-awaited new facility in Ankeny in March.
BRUCE REEVE SELECTED AS NEW LAB ADMINISTRATOR
Director Gene Meyer has selected Criminalist Bruce Reeve as the new DCI Lab Administrator of the Crime Laboratory. Bruce succeeded Jerry Brown, who retired in December of 2005. He will start his new duties on March 10, 2006.
NILA BREMER PLAYS A KEY ROLE IN CLAMP DOWN ON U.S. METH LABS
On Monday, October 9, 2006, officials unveiled “Chemical Lock” to clamp down on U.S. meth labs. A new chemical tool to combat the illegal production of methamphetamine nationwide was unveiled by Secretary of Agriculture Patty Judge, U.S. Senator Tom Harkin and Congressman Leonard Boswell, along with representatives of the Agribusiness Association of Iowa, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and a host of other officials at a news conference outside the Capitol in Des Moines.
The announcement was made in front of an anhydrous ammonia fertilizer nurse tank bearing a STOP METH sign.
The Iowa State research, confirmed by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s forensics lab, found that meth cooks who use untreated anhydrous ammonia typically get a 42 percent yield of pseudoephedrine for conversion to meth. However, that yield drops to two percent or less when the calcium nitrate inhibitor is added.
Nila Bremer, a criminalist with the DCI Crime Laboratory, played a key role in the testing of the effects of calcium nitrate in the rendering of methamphetamine. Nila spent approximately 45 hours testing nine different chemicals attempting to manufacturing meth to test the effect of each additional additive. Calcium nitrate was found to be very effective in inhibiting the reaction of converting the precursor to methamphetamine.
“Together with rigorous enforcement efforts, anhydrous ammonia tank locks and strong regulatory controls on the key meth ingredient - pseudoephedrine – the Calcium Nitrate meth inhibitor is one more powerful tool to help cut illegal meth production“, said Senator Harkin. “The message for would-be meth cooks where the meth inhibitor is used is ‘Don’t Bother’”.
IOWA’S NEWEST CRIME SCENE RESPONSE UNIT (April 5, 2007)
The Department of Public Safety’s Division of Criminal Investigation is rolling its newest Crime Scene Response Unit out of the garage and into the field. After months of planning and preparation, Iowa’s investigators now have a high efficiency vehicle that will make it easier and more secure for investigators to collect, carry and preserve crime scene evidence.
The B.E.A.S.T. (Bar-coded Evidence Analysis Statistical Tracking)
The Iowa DCI Lab has begun the process of replacing our Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) with an off the shelf product. Our current LIMS system was developed in-house and it is no longer cost-effective to update and maintain. This new database produced is called “The BEAST” and will be provided by the Porter Lee Corporation.
The BEAST is in use by many agencies across the country and was developed specifically for forensic laboratories.
In addition to evidence tracking, the BEAST will provide tracking of training, supplies, equipment, quality assurance and interaction with laboratory instrumentation.
One feature of this product that will uniquely impact all law enforcement agencies throughout Iowa is the BEAST’s pre-logging feature. Any agency wishing to submit evidence to the DCI Lab will have the ability to pre-log their evidence directly from their location through a secure website. An internet connection and authorization are all that is needed to use this feature. No additional software is required. Information such as names, types of crimes, descriptions of evidence, and requests for analysis can be made using this feature. A “packing slip” or receipt with a unique barcode can then be printed and brought with the evidence.
A simple scan of this barcode or the push of a button will then import all of your data upon arrival or your evidence at the lab. This should significantly decrease time at the DCI Laboratory’s evidence counter.
DCI LAB GETS NEW CRIME SCENE PICKUP
The DCI Laboratory purchased a new 2011 4x4 Crime Scene Pickup in November of 2010 with asset-sharing money. They decided to go with the 4x4 pickup option so they would be able to navigate winter road conditions as well as be able to take it off road at a crime scene if necessary (i.e. into a corn field).
The box is covered with a topper to cover all of the equipment as well as a pull out bed system, so they can easily access the equipment that is stored in the bed without having to crawl in under the topper. They are unable to carry all of the equipment on the pickup that the big truck has (which is pictured below), simply due to the smaller size, but the pickup is equipped with the majority of the equipment that is needed to work a crime scene.
DCI LAB ACHIEVES ISO ACCREDITATION 2011
The DCI Crime Laboratory achieves ISO accreditation status under the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors Laboratory Accreditation Board’s International accreditation program.
The American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors Laboratory Accreditation Board’s (ASCLD/LAB) International accreditation program (based on ISO 17025 guidelines) is a recognition that laboratories can obtain. To have this accreditation means the DCI lab has implemented a quality system aimed at improving our ability to consistently produce valid results. Since the standard is about competence, accreditation is simply formal recognition of a demonstration of that competence. ISO 17025 is the main standard used by testing and calibration laboratories.
L-R: Lab Administrator Bruce Reeve, Criminalist Supervisor Paul Hermsen, Commissioner Larry Noble and DCI Director John Quinn
DCI CRIME LAB LAUNCHES NEW WEBSITE
October 10, 2012
The Crime Laboratory of the Division of Criminal Investigation launched a new web application that will enable attorneys, law enforcement and members of the public to monitor activity related to drunken driving and public intoxication in communities across Iowa.
The website tracks and publishes the results of breath alcohol tests related to specific investigations. These tests are administered by local law enforcement when encountering an individual who may be in violation of one of Iowa’s laws regarding use and abuse of alcohol. The results of the test are then transmitted to the breath alcohol website for public review.
The website also enables visitors to check records related to the testing and certification of breath alcohol instruments, training status for particular officers, and statistics related to testing statewide and locally.
Crime Laboratory Administrator Bruce Reeve says the website helps DCI maintain transparency, “The goal of the project is to provide free electronic access to information that is commonly requested by many different people. It’s important to protect the local investigations. But it’s equally important to provide easy access to information that is considered public record.”
NEW LAW: Iowa to expand DNA Collection from criminals
Effective July 1, 2014, a new law went into effect which requires state law enforcement agencies to start the rollout on a massive new DNA data collection operation. The new law expands the scope of criminal offenders who will now have to submit a DNA sample that will be kept in a federal database of identifiable DNA signatures for an indefinite period of time.
DCI LAB ADDS FORENSIC SCIENCE TECHNICIAN POSITIONS
Reason behind the new position
Lab Administrator Bruce Reeve (May 14, 2015)
The Forensic Science Technician (FST) position was developed as a means to augment laboratory capacity and capability. They will provide important assistance needed to help us reduce our casework backlog, and help with much needed methods development and validation projects. Criminalists are required to be fully trained and competency tested prior to beginning casework. Depending on the forensic discipline involved, this training could take up to three years. These long training periods are necessary to cover all the training topics, and develop the subject matter expertise required of an expert witness. However, the long training periods also make it very difficult to effectively use grant funding to support the hiring of additional criminalists. Training for the FST’s will be more limited to the support activities they will be doing. This training will be shorter in duration than that of the criminalists they support. After they receive their training, there will be competency testing, and then they will be able to get right to work. Without the prolonged training periods, utilization of grant funding to bring in technicians for additional laboratory help makes more sense.
The educational and experience requirements for the technician position are not quite as high as that for the criminalist position. The pay is a little lower, and the positions are more likely to be grant funded. As a result, we anticipate the forensic technician positions will be a good fit for, and be more appealing to, individuals who are recent graduates and/or are just getting started in their forensic science careers. We see it as an entry level position that allows us to bring in additional staffing and improve the analysis capacity of the laboratory. The improved capacity will help to reduce our backlog of cases waiting to be processed, and improve our average turnaround times on case assignments closed.
We also know there are many important projects relating to analysis capability that we have not been able to get to, due to decreased staffing levels and our backlog of cases waiting to be processed.
We also see the forensic science technician position as a flexible one that could be moved around in our lab (with the proper training and competency testing) to address areas of greatest need. If the positions are grant funded, we are required to limit the person’s activities in such a way that they support the objectives of the grant. But, if at some point we are able to bring in additional FST’s that are not grant funded, the flexibility of the FST position will benefit us. And finally, we know that even though they may not have a lot of experience now; many of our FST’s will possess the educational requirements, and will be developing the experience needed to fill the criminalist positions that might develop in the future here at the DCI Lab.