In April of 2006 the Forensic Services Unit of the District Attorney’s Office was created to assist law enforcement agencies in Berks County in several specialized areas. The primary function of the Forensic Services Unit is to assist police agencies manage and process crime scenes.
The Forensic Services Unit acquired the majority of equipment through state and federal grants, with very little cost to Berks County taxpayers. In 2006 a grant application was made through the Paul Coverdell grant, a Department of Justice (DOJ) grant that is administered by Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency.
The grant is designated for the improvement of Forensic Services. The grant application was well received because of our multi-jurisdictional status and the guarantee that we would serve all that asked for assistance. The unit recently expanded the AFIS Lab, Computer Forensic Lab, and Processing Lab to accommodate the expanding caseload experienced by the department. Det. David Wright and Detective Marc Creary are responsible for processing all items of evidence brought into the Forensic Services Unit.
The Forensic Services Unit also operates Berks AFIS, which is headed by Sergeant Robert Johnson. AFIS stands for Automated Fingerprint Identification System.
Automated fingerprint identification is the process of matching one or many unknown fingerprints against a database of known and unknown prints. Automated fingerprint identification systems are primarily used by law enforcement agencies for criminal identification initiatives, the most important of which include identifying a person suspected of committing a crime or linking a suspect to other unsolved crimes. Detective Johnson is a member of the IAI, (International Association of Identification).
Berks AFIS carries the largest county operated case load of any AFIS operation in Pennsylvania. Berks AFIS also carries a larger case load than several Pennsylvania State Police AFIS labs.
Every police department in Berks County, including the Reading Police Department, submits fingerprints taken from crime scenes to Berks AFIS for identification. The Pennsylvania State Police do operate their own out-of-county AFIS labs, but submissions have been made through Berks AFIS to expedite their identification process.
The Forensic Services Unit consists of three county detectives. The detectives have in excess of 90 years combined expertise in the forensics field. The detectives work a 40 hour work week, during normal business hours. To cover the county after hours, the detectives are on-call. The detectives rotate on a weekly basis.
The Forensic Services Unit also provides year round training for county police officers in a variety of disciplines. Yearly training is provided is in the form of a 40 hour Evidence Technician course that is taught by Sgt. Robert Johnson. The supplies for the course are paid for by the Berks County Chiefs Association and are offered free to the departments. The course has been held for the last 9 years and has trained over 100 officers. We currently have a trained technician in almost every department in the county. The course was created in an attempt to establish a certain level of quality of evidence work within Berks County.
To contact the Forensic Services Unit, Call: 610-898-1005