CJRC Impact: Tour of the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation by Madison Miller, Third Year Psychology Major with Minors in Dance and Criminal Justice
The tour of the Bureau of Criminal Investigation began with the laboratory division where we saw numerous units including drug chemistry, DNA, CODIS, firearms, latent print, handwriting analysis, and trace evidence. I found it interesting, yet not unforeseen, that the drug chemistry unit takes about 75% of the BCI’s yearly case assignments. Forensic scientists in this unit examine physical evidence to determine if there is an illegal or harmful substance within it. It was also interesting that with the rise in opioid use, the scientists have to take more extreme, protective precautions to not come into contact with fentanyl or other synthetic opioids. Although all of the units were very intriguing, another area that was very interesting to me and others was the DNA and CODIS units. Scientists in this unit receive samples of bodily fluids like semen, blood, urine, feces, and saliva and analyze the evidence for DNA. Once a DNA profile is detected, it is compared to that of individuals associated with the case and profiles in CODIS to see if they can find a match. CODIS stands for Combined DNA Index System and is a database that contains DNA from crime scenes, convicted felons, and felony arrestees. Scientists can use this database to find potential links to evidence from unsolved crimes. The forensic scientist, who served as our guide, shared some incredible stories about unsolved crimes that were solved and the offender was convicted for them years later through the CODIS system. It is amazing to me how far our technology has advanced, especially in the field of forensics.
Next, we were taken into the identification division of the bureau by a senior staff member. This division maintains fingerprints, palm prints, photographs, and other information related to arrests within the state of Ohio. Our guide taught us all about his specific job, in which he verifies all incoming civilian and criminal fingerprint transactions with the use of an online system. He showed us pictures of different aspects of fingerprints including loops, whirls, and arches and then allowed us to look at the fingerprints online and decide what kind of print it was that we were examining. Many of us were surprised there was so much involved with fingerprints and wwere amazed at how passionate he was about his work!
This tour of the BCI was exciting and informational. It answered many of the questions I had about the work that was completed at the bureau. I was extremely pleased with how helpful and engaging both of our guides were and would feel comfortable reaching out to them with any additional questions. If you are interested in the BCI or related careers but have yet to see it first hand, I would highly recommend learning about it from those who are in the field!