Denver Crime Laboratory

The Denver Police Department Crime Laboratory provides forensic and crime scene services to the City and County of Denver. Technical innovation is paramount in rendering forensic support to our customers and progress made in the forensic and investigative sciences will continue to expand and evolve to improve criminal case outcomes.

The DPD Crime Laboratory has successfully utilized criminal intelligence databases in fingerprinting, DNA, and firearms. These technologies have allowed the Denver Police Department an increased efficiency in criminal investigations often in a very short time and in a critical manner. We provide service to the Denver Police Department, Denver District Attorney’s Office, Denver Sheriff Department, Denver Fire Department, Denver Office of the Medical Examiner, and several Federal agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the U.S. Postal Service.

The DPD Crime Laboratory also continues to modernize, requiring a commitment to a future that embraces the expanding role of the forensic sciences in criminal investigations as an objective measure. We are well placed to take advantage of this challenging and exciting future and will continue to lead with excellence in service as well as a commitment to innovation.


The DPD Crime Laboratory, led by the Forensics and Evidence Bureau, plays a vital role in the criminal justice process by providing high quality investigative information in the form of identifying or linking evidence in crimes to an individual or to a crime scene. The Bureau performs expert examination of evidentiary materials to aid in the investigation and prosecution of criminal offenses by utilizing sophisticated scientific equipment and validated laboratory techniques. Our analysts are available to provide scientific testimony in the judicial resolution of criminal cases. We are accredited to ISO/IEC 17025 through the ANSI National Accreditation Board (ANAB) and deliver quality forensic services for law enforcement agencies.

The Bureau is comprised of:

  • Quality Assurance Unit
  • Crime Scene Unit
  • Firearms Unit
  • Forensic Biology and DNA Unit
  • Forensic Chemistry Unit
  • Forensic Imaging Unit
  • Latent Print Unit
  • Computer Forensics Unit


Quality Assurance

It is the policy of the Denver Police Department Crime Laboratory to assist the criminal justice system through the timely collection, and scientific examination of physical evidence and the clear, unbiased interpretation of analytical findings.

The mission of the Denver Police Department Forensics and Evidence Bureau is to provide analysis and interpretation of case evidence, ensuring the quality, integrity and reliability of its work through an ongoing quality assurance program.

In addition to performing casework we actively participate in scientific research for future development of forensic capabilities and modernization of analytical techniques.

Our quality management system ensures that testing is conducted in a consistent, unbiased and traceable manner that uses validated methodologies.

Accreditation to ISO/IEC 17025 means that the laboratory is held accountable to international standards which are enforced through external audits and quality system monitoring. The crime laboratory utilizes external testing services to demonstrate the competence of its scientists and undergoes external audits by recognized experts in each forensic discipline to ensure ongoing compliance to the international standards. These steps were taken to support our testing activities and demonstrate to all criminal justice stakeholders the reliability of the results they receive. The implementation and maintenance of an ISO/IEC 17025 quality management system is central to achieving this goal. ISO/IEC 17025 is the International Organization for Standardization standard that specifies requirements for the competence of testing and calibration laboratories.

Crime Scene Unit

The Crime Scene Unit is comprised of highly qualified and trained Crime Scene Investigators that respond to requests by law enforcement personnel to identify, document, collect and preserve evidence related to crimes against persons and property crime scenes. Services performed by the Crime Scene Unit include crime scene documentation, crime scene processing utilizing general and advanced techniques, evidence collection and packaging, evidence transportation, latent print processing, subject/suspect processing, crime scene reconstruction and diagraming utilizing traditional measurements and 3D laser scanning and providing courtroom testimony.

Firearms Unit

The Firearms Unit personnel conduct examinations of firearms, ammunition, fired bullets, spent cartridge cases and shot shells, shot and wadding. They test fire seized firearms to obtain known specimens of bullets, cartridge cases, or shot shells. These specimens are used for microscopic comparison with cartridge cases, bullets or shot shells that are recovered during the investigation of a crime to determine the firearm used. The Unit also has the capability of examining a shooting victim’s clothing to determine the possible muzzle-to-garment distance. The Unit’s personnel restore obliterated serial numbers on firearms and examine tool mark evidence.


The Firearms Unit is also responsible for utilizing the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN). NIBIN is a database of digital images of fired cartridge cases that were found at crime scenes or test-fired from confiscated weapons. The goal of the system is to identify firearms or fired cartridge cases that may link criminal incidents. All fired cartridge cases recovered at crime scenes are evaluated by the Firearms Unit for entry into the NIBIN. Those items that are entered are correlated (searched) automatically against all entries made in Colorado. Hits identified during correlation review are confirmed through hands-on, microscopic comparisons. Once verified, a notification of the hit is sent to the investigating detectives for each incident that has been linked.


The Unit is a founding member and active participant in the Denver Crime Gun Intelligence Center (CGIC).

CGIC is a multi-agency investigative taskforce built around NIBIN that began operation in 2013. The mission of the Denver CGIC is to identify serial shooters and their sources of crime guns for immediate disruption, investigation and prosecution by integrating and leveraging NIBIN, crime gun tracing and ShotSpotter (a sound-based gunshot detection system deployed throughout the city). Current participants in the CGIC include law enforcement agencies of Denver, Lakewood, Aurora, Commerce City, Thornton, Westminster; as well as Adams, Arapahoe, and Jefferson Counties.

Forensic Biology and DNA Unit

The Forensic Biology and DNA Unit is comprised of forensic biologists and DNA analysts that examine items of physical evidence, such as sexual assault kits, clothing, weapons, and other items, for the presence of biological fluids and stains and/or cellular material. Once stains or areas of interest are identified and sampled, DNA testing is conducted in an attempt to identify the source of the stains on the crime scene evidence. The DNA profile developed from the crime scene evidence can be compared to DNA profiles from known sources, such as a victim or a suspect in a case. The DNA analyst will then issue a report with their conclusions, either identifying or including the person of interest as a possible contributor to the item or excluding them as a contributor to an item of evidence.


If a DNA profile cannot be obtained from a person of interest in a case, or if a suspect has not been identified, the DNA profile generated from the crime scene evidence may be entered into a searchable DNA database. The Combined DNA Index System, or CODIS, is a DNA database containing millions of DNA profiles collected from crime scene evidence as well as from convicted offenders and arrestees in some states (Colorado allows for arrestee offender samples). CODIS allows federal, state, and local forensic laboratories to search and share information electronically, enabling an exchange of DNA profiles that can result in identifying cases that are linked across multiple jurisdictions or in a hit to a known offender profile, thereby identifying an investigative lead.  Analysts routinely submit crime scene profiles delivered from items of evidence to the appropriate level of CODIS (i.e., local, state, or national level) based on state and federal eligibility requirements, where regular searches are performed.

Forensic Chemistry Unit

The Forensic Chemistry Unit's personnel conduct analysis of controlled substances such as amphetamines, heroin, fentanyl, marijuana, cocaine and benzodiazepines. They also analyze trace evidence materials like explosives, explosive residue, gunshot residue (GSR), and paint. The Unit tests blood samples for the presence and concentration of ethyl alcohol. The Unit also has the capability to identify an array of ignitable liquids. This analytical capacity is most frequently used to examine fire debris in suspected arson cases.

Forensic Imaging Unit

The Forensic Imaging Unit recovers video from surveillance systems. The Unit has specialized computer equipment to enhance, analyze, and capture still images from the recovered video.

The Unit also runs a repository for crime scene, laboratory and traffic investigation photos. The FIU assists DPD personnel with problems related to digital evidence, such as flash cards that become unreadable, and conducts specialized photography of property items, victims, suspects, and crime scenes.

Latent Print Unit

The Latent Print Unit analyzes latent prints collected in the field by the Crime Scene Unit and chemically processes items of evidence in the laboratory for the presence of latent prints. Latent prints that are chemically developed or lifted by the Crime Scene Unit can be compared to known exemplars or may be searched in a database for possible identification. Examiners conduct comparisons, identify or exclude individuals as the source of latent print evidence, and report their conclusions.


The Latent Print Unit utilizes the federal Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS) which searches the nationwide database and the state Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) which searches the State of Colorado database. The AFIS and IAFIS databases are comprised of latent prints from crime scenes or evidence and known exemplars of individuals. All latent prints are manually evaluated by the Latent Print Unit for entry into a database. Those latent prints that are entered are searched against all known exemplars in each database with a goal of linking subjects to the crime scene or items of evidence. Hits identified during a search are confirmed through hands-on visual comparisons. Once verified, a notification of the hit is sent to the investigating detectives for each incident that has been linked. 

Computer Forensics

Computer Forensic examinations are performed by a DPD Detective on special assignment at the Rocky Mountain Regional Computer Forensic Laboratory (RMRCFL) of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Centennial, Colorado. The laboratory is accredited in compliance with ISO/IEC 17025. It provides support to criminal investigations of terrorism, fraud, child pornography, violent crimes, trade secret thefts, destruction to intellectual property, financial, property, Internet crimes, and other computer-related crimes.

Computer forensics specializes in recovery and examination of digital data from storage devices such as computer hard drives, USB drives, optical discs, and smart phones. The laboratory creates physical or logical copies of seized computer and cell phone related evidence. The analyst examines the digital data and publishes the results in a report. The laboratory also aids in search and seizure operations.