RICHMOND, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- This week has been designated to honor the role of forensic science and forensic medicine in the investigation of criminal activity.
Governor Ralph Northam issued a proclamation declaring the week of Sept. 16 through 22 as Forensic Science and Medicine Week.
The Virginia Department of Forensic Science, or DFS, was created in 1972 as the Bureau of Forensic Science, a statewide laboratory system that is independent of law enforcement.
According to a release, the department is nationally accredited and provides forensic laboratory services in criminal matters across the Commonwealth.
Scientists with DFS evaluate and analyze evidence, interpret results, and provide technical assistance and expert testimony related to evidence recovered at crime scenes along with forensic pathologists and medico-legal death investigators with the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.
"The talented and hardworking staff at the Virginia Department of Forensic Science and Officer of the Chief Medical Examiner provide the highest quality services to solve crimes and prevent criminal activity, which has helped make the department a national leader in the field of forensic science," said Northam. "Virginia was the first state to implement DNA testing for criminal investigations and the first to establish a DNA Data Bank, which to date has resulted in over 12,000 cold hits. We recognize the vital public service that our forensic scientists provide in support of justice and we thank them for their dedicated service."
The DFS's Controlled Substance and Toxicology Sections and the OCME are also helping the Commonwealth respond to the opioid crisis.
During fiscal year 2018, DFS received more than 60,600 cases, of which more than 34,500 involved controlled substances.