Forensic Services Unit

The Saint Paul Police Department’s Forensic Services Unit (FSU) is committed to performing unbiased forensic analysis which is accurate, precise, reliable, and timely. The Forensic Services Unit is staffed with a combination of civilian professionals and police specialists and is led by a Forensic Laboratory Manager who reports to the Deputy Chief of Support Services and Administration Division.

Accredited by the ANSI National Accreditation Board (ANAB) as an ISO/IEC 17020 Forensic Inspection Agency.  

The FSU employ’s procedures which are well documented, based upon thorough research, and have been proven effective through validation testing.  We ensure competency through employing qualified personnel, a proficiency testing program, and ongoing training.  The FSU strives for continual improvement to better serve the department and the City of Saint Paul.

Major Crime Scene Processing

FSU personnel maintain 24/7 readiness to respond to major crime scenes for documentation and evidence processing.  Crime scene processing is primarily the responsibility of officers assigned to the unit, and supervising sergeants.  Documentation is carried out through the use of digital photography and high resolution 3-D scanning equipment, allowing us to digitally record scenes with a high degree of accuracy.  The FSU also maintains two specially outfitted and fully stocked crime scene response vehicles, enabling the use of a wide array of forensic techniques in the field.

Latent Print Examination

The FSU employs some of the latest technology and techniques available for the visualization and examination of latent prints. Full spectrum imaging equipment along with LASER and narrow bandwidth light sources aid in the visualization of prints before and after the development process.  A variety of physical and chemical development techniques are used in the laboratory, which range from the simple application of fingerprint powder to more complex procedures which cause color changes or fluorescence to occur.

The FSU is a participating agency in the Midwest Automated Fingerprint Identification Network (MAFIN), a regional database of finger and palm prints from Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota.  Searches can be conducted at the state or national level through access to the FBI’s Next Generation Identification (NGI) system.  Both MAFIN and NGI contain a file of unknown prints left at crime scenes, which are continually compared to known prints as new ones are entered into the system. 

Crash Reconstruction

As an additional responsibility, the FSU is tasked with the documentation and reconstruction of major traffic accidents occurring within the city.  Specially trained officers document crash scenes using a combination of digital photography, total station surveying equipment, and/or 3-D scanning.  This data is then used to build a digital model of the scene using computer aided design software.  From that point, a series of calculations can be carried out to determine speeds involved and the order of events leading up to the crash.

The FSU also maintains qualified personnel and facilities necessary to inspect vehicles in order to determine if an accident can be attributed to mechanical factors.

Laboratory Manager

Certified by the International Association for Identification, Rosanna has been a latent print examiner since 2008.  After an eleven year career as a criminalist with the Arizona Department of Public Safety, and three years with Ideal Innovations (A Department of Defense contractor), Rosanna began managing the Forensic Services Unit in 2013.  She brings with her experience in the fields of controlled substance examination, latent print examination, and crime scene processing; along with laboratory quality assurance assessment.

FSU Internships

Internships in the SPPD Forensic Services Unit will provide students the opportunity to observe forensic work in the laboratory and in the field.  Additionally, interns will gain hands-on experience completing an assigned research project.

All internship positions in the FSU are unpaid.  Applicants must be a junior or senior in college, or in graduate school, pursuing a degree in Biology, Chemistry, Forensic Science, or closely related field.  Internships are a minimum of 250 hours, and must be taken for course credit.

For further details on the application process, see the SPPD Community Engagement Unit web page

FSU History

As the oldest police organization in the state of Minnesota, the Saint Paul Police Department has a rich history of using scientific techniques in the course of investigating crimes.  Through extensive research, The Saint Paul Police Historical Society has detailed the history of forensic science in Saint Paul from the department’s establishment in 1854 up to today in a series of articles titled “The Saint Paul Police Crime Lab: An Evolution in Forensics."

Last Edited: February 8, 2024