Sheriff's Office

Forensic Science Division

Kerri Heward, Director
Main Phone:  (775) 328-2800
MISSION STATEMENT
The Forensic Science Division is committed to delivering state of the art scientific analysis and investigative services while maintaining the highest level of integrity, impartiality, and professionalism to all communities we serve; thereby contributing to the citizens' safety and due process of the judicial system.

The Washoe County Sheriff's Office Forensic Science Division provides forensic services to local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies in 13 of the 17 Nevada counties encompassing over 80 agencies. The Division is a full-service forensic laboratory staffed by more than 40 individuals in sworn and civilian capacities. The staff members receive continuing education through training programs, seminars and conferences. The Division is funded by monies from Washoe County, the user agencies, and grants.  The Breath Alcohol program is supported by contract with the State of Nevada. 

The Division provides investigative support with a full service crime scene unit within in the Forensic Investigation Section (FIS). The scientific disciplines range from DNA, Toxicology, Controlled Substances, and Firearms. The Breath Alcohol Section provides support for the Breath Alcohol instruments across northern and central Nevada. The Evidence Section houses all of Washoe County evidence as well as evidence submitted to the Forensic Science Division from our user agencies.

The Forensic Science Division (FSD) is accredited by the ANSI National Accreditation Board (ANAB), an independent organization that establishes operating standards and monitors compliance with their standards and ISO/IEC 17025. The Washoe County Laboratory was established in the mid 1970s and has been accredited since 1994.

Objectives for Customer Service
•   Provide major crime scene processing including digital photography, diagramming, and evidence collection.
•   Provide scientific analyses of materials collected during the course of criminal investigation matters or other law enforcement matters.
•   Provide expert witness testimony in order to assist courts and juries in their role of determining guilt or innocence of criminal defendants.
•   Provide technical guidance and act as a resource for law enforcement and other emergency services personnel; assist in their investigations and assist criminal justice personnel in preparation for trials.
•   Provide training to law enforcement investigators in the recognition, collection and preservation of evidence; familiarize investigators with what may be expected from evidence examinations.
•   Train and certify law enforcement personnel to perform breath alcohol testing of persons suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol.
•   Maintain operation and certify accuracy of evidentiary breath alcohol testing instruments used by law enforcement agencies.
•   Process and store evidence for the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office; process and temporarily store evidence submitted for examination by outside agencies.
•   Provide professional and timely response to all inquiries through the Front Office.
 
Prioritization of examination is based on a threat to the community, court dates, and necessary investigative information.  Upon receipt of evidence examination requests, the pertinent forensic section will decide what method will be utilized in the requested examination process. Refer to each section for information on validated methods that are utilized.

REQUEST FOR RECORDS FROM THE PUBLIC

Release of public records is governed by Nevada Revised Statutes.

Request for information or records from the public will be responded to within the five (5) business days as mandated by Nevada Revised Statute 239

Click here to submit a Public Records Request.

REQUESTS FOR SUBPOENA DUCES TECUM (DISCOVERY) INFORMATION

Once the case work examination is completed, a report is released to the investigating law enforcement agency. The law enforcement agency is responsible for sending the laboratory report to the stakeholders.

 Subpoena Duces Tecum (Discovery) Processing:   

Generally, a basic discovery request for the case packet can be completed within one hour at no charge. The typical content of the discovery packet is a copy of the report; case notes; and an electronic chain of custody.  Requests for control data, procedure manuals, equipment maintenance, or calibration information requires additional time and normally will take more than one hour of preparation.   Time processing discovery requests on the same case will be compounded and any time after the first hour will be charged accordingly.

Click here to submit a Subpoena for Records

Voluminous Requests:   

Should the extent of the documentation requested be too “voluminous” to be practical, the FSD Director will determine what resources will be deployed to comply with the request.   We offer the option to view the documents at the FSD.  All document viewing must be escorted by a Division member.