Forensic science examinations and investigations are performed by two entities in the State of Delaware:
- The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner
- The Delaware State Police Crime Lab
Office of the Chief Medical Examiner
The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME), within the Delaware Health and Social Services (DHSS) Division is responsible for investigating sudden deaths occurring within the State of Delaware. This state agency, located in Wilmington but serving the entire state of Delaware, from Dover to Newark, is also responsible for the oversight of the following:
Forensic Sciences Laboratory, which is responsible for:
- Analyzing narcotics, dangerous drugs and controlled substances
- Performing blood alcohol analyses for suspected DUI cases
- Performing laboratory analyses in arson investigations
Forensic DNA Laboratory, which is responsible for:
- Handling casework submitted by police agencies in instances of rape, sex assault, homicides, and other cases requiring DNA analysis
The services provided to law enforcement agencies in the State of Delaware to the OCME include:
- Death Investigation
- Toxicology Testing
- Controlled Substances Testing
- DNA Testing
- Arson Testing
Delaware State Police Crime Lab
The Delaware State Police Crime Lab also provides services for law enforcement agencies at the local, state and federal levels, including the Delaware State Police. There are three units in within the Crime Lab that specialize in blood and breath alcohol analysis, hair and fiber analysis, and forensic and general photography.
Forensic Science Colleges and Degree Granting Schools
Delaware is home to a number of programs for individuals who want to become forensic scientists. Many colleges and degree granting schools offer forensic degrees as concentrations or specializations within broader majors, such as biology and chemistry, as stand-alone degrees in forensic science, or as unique, cross-discipline hybrids.
For example, individuals seeking careers in forensic science may choose to pursue a Bachelor of Forensic Science degree. This type of degree involves not only the study of biology, which is crucial for a career in forensic science, but the study of laboratory techniques, as well, thereby priming students for a career in the laboratory.
Through a Bachelor of Forensic Science degree, students will learn how to do everything from perform DNA analyses and analyze crime scenes to conduct cause-of-death investigations and present test findings.
Required coursework in a Bachelor of Forensic Science degree may include:
- General Biology
- General and Analytical Chemistry
- Organic Chemistry
- Survey of Forensic Science
- Cell Biology
- Molecular Biology
- Human Anatomy
- Forensic DNA Analysis
- Forensic Chemistry
- Courts and Criminal Justice
The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Forensic Sciences Laboratory, offers internships for select students through a competitive internship program.
Eligible candidates must be undergraduates with at least a junior status and a 3.0 GPA or higher. They must also have declared a major in either a medical or forensic-related field and have completed at least 12 hours within that department to qualify for the internship program.
Requirements for Forensic Jobs in Delaware
Forensic scientists in Delaware are hired through the Department of Health and Social Services. Requirements for these positions are stringent and are only available to those candidates with the most comprehensive resumes.
For example, a Forensic DNA Analyst within the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner must possess, at a minimum, a bachelor’s degree in biology, chemistry, or a forensic-science related area, with undergraduate or graduate coursework in biochemistry, genetics, and molecular biology. Candidates for this type of forensic science job must also possess either experience or education in statistics and population genetics as they relate to forensic DNA analysis.
All candidates for forensic scientist jobs in Delaware must also pass an examination that is designed to assess their training and experience.