The tour started with a look at the DNA
Forensic Laboratory and explained the processes involved in DNA testing. Among
the jobs conducted there are programs set up with places like Miami, Dade in
Florida, to test DNA. This is collected
during property crimes and a back log of sexual assault kits from cities like Detroit. Dr. Terry Fenger
is the Director of the Forensic Science Center.
“We’re extremely honored that the
legislature sent a group of individuals to tour the forensic science facility,
this is a keynote event in the sense that many of these individuals are
interested in economic development potential as well as the educational aspects
of forensic science,” Fenger said.
The tour was the second leg of a
presentation started in June by Fenger that outlined the operation and
management of the facility. It works in conjunction with the West Virginia
State Police on difference aspects of Forensic Science.
“This is where we do DNA testing for the
state of West Virginia as well as other states, some of that DNA testing is
focused on the convicted offender database which we call CODIS and we have a
lot of different partners or stakeholders that we’re working with continuously
and that really puts our program and center on the map,” Fenger said.
The members of the tour watched from the
other side of the glass as scientists examined DNA evidence at the facility.
They also were able to take a peek inside of a room that houses backlogged
sexual assault kits from Detroit.
The center is helping the Michigan
city catch up on its testing.
Fenger said the participants were
interested in many aspects of the facility.
“Our forte all these many years has been
DNA technologies and chemistry so we’ve been able to pull together on many
different aspects of this infrastructure to allow this development in West
Virginia and in the future we anticipate even more development in the area of
biometrics and forensic science,” Fenger said.
The second part of the tour focused on
the digital forensics lab conducted at the site along with the WV State Police.
There they focus on cases involving computers such as child pornography cases
and others involving the internet. Senator Herb Snyder Chairman of the
Government Organizations Committee said it was an important visit.
“I think they’re very professional here,
the link with the state police is obvious, it’s an excellent relationship and
we need to do more of this, the state in so many areas doesn’t have to do
everything themselves and this is one where you have a partnership between
Marshall and the state police to do a critical job for our judiciary and law
enforcement and it’s working very well,” Snyder said.
Senator Clark Barnes from the 11th
district said it was an intriguing tour.
“This helps us to understand the degree
of difficulty, the degree of technology that’s truly involved, the timelines
that are involved in developing DNA cases and also how sterile the environments
have to be and how well they maintain their credibility,” Barnes said.
The Senators are members of the Joint
Standing Committee on the Judiciary.