The Ocean County Sheriff’s Department in New Jersey has been on the forefront of forensic science in its criminal investigations since the 1970s. Although the Criminal Investigation Unit started in 1970 with just crime scene photographers and fingerprint analysts, it grew in the 1980s to include a forensic photo technician and two forensic chemists. Additionally, the department began using a specialized forensic laser system in its forensic work in the 1980s, which only 12 forensic science departments in North America were using at the time.
In more recent years, the Ocean County Criminal Investigation Unit has assisted crime expert Dr. Henry Lee by letting him use its forensic laser system in processing criminal evidence from his own Connecticut cases. The FBI has also consulted with this forensic science department due to its use of modern technology and techniques.
With New Jersey at the cutting edge of forensic science technology, it is an exciting time for those who wish to pursue forensic science jobs in the state. Becoming a forensic scientist in New Jersey requires dedication, education and experience.
Possible forensic science careers in New Jersey include, but are not limited to:
- Microbiology Project Assistant
- Radiochemistry Analyst
- Laboratory Technician
- Digital Forensic Engineer
- DNA Examiner
Forensic Science Degree Programs in New Jersey
There is an assortment of forensic science college degree programs available in New Jersey and through online schools. Depending upon a student’s desired forensic science career, an associate degree or certificate, bachelor degree, or graduate degree may be necessary. Programs that are accredited through the Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission (FEPAC) of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences are preferred by many employers who are searching for graduates of New Jersey forensic science education programs.
Degrees in forensic science and related areas that are available in New Jersey include, but are not limited to:
- Certificate in Forensic Science
- Bachelor of Science in Forensic Chemistry
- Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice – Forensics Track
- Bachelor of Science in Digital Forensics Technology
- Bachelor of Science in Computer Forensics Management
Organizations that Employ Forensic Scientists in New Jersey
- New Jersey State Police Office of Forensic Sciences – The official crime laboratories for the New Jersey State Police. There are four laboratories, plus a DNA laboratory, all of which are American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors-Lab Accreditation Board (ASCLD/LAB) accredited. These laboratories are located in:
- Hamilton – Central Regional Laboratory (analyzes toxicology, arson, drugs, forensic serology and trace evidence)
- Hamilton – DNA Laboratory (performs CODIS, mitochondrial DNA analysis, and nuclear DNA analysis)
- Hammonton – South Regional Laboratory (analyzes arson, toxicology and drugs)
- Sea Girt – East Regional Laboratory (analyzes arson, toxicology and drugs)
- Little Falls – North Regional Laboratory (analyzes arson, toxicology and drugs)
- Hamilton – Forensic Anthropology Laboratory (performs dental and skeletal identification)
- Hamilton – OFS Breath Testing Unit (supports the New Jersey State Police’s breath testing and internet breath testing database)
- Office of the New Jersey State Medical Examiner, Toxicology Laboratory – This lab, which is accredited in Forensic Urine Drug Testing by the College of American Pathologists, performs various toxicology analysis procedures for the Office of the New Jersey State Medical Examiner. It is located in Newark.
- Ocean County Sheriff’s Department Criminalistics Division – The forensic division of this county sheriff’s office has some of the most modern equipment and techniques in the country. For this reason, it has been utilized by renowned forensic expert Dr. Henry Lee of the Connecticut State Crime Lab as well as by the FBI. The laboratory is located in Toms River.
- Union County Prosecutor’s Office Forensic Laboratory – The main crime laboratory of the county prosecutor’s office performs analysis of biological evidence, including DNA, as well as of controlled substances and other drugs. It is located in Elizabeth.
- Essex County Sheriff’s Office Ballistics Laboratory – This county sheriff’s office laboratory analyzes weapons evidence, such as firearms, bullets and shell casings, for criminal cases in Essex County, New Jersey. It is located in Newark.
Professional Certification for Forensic Science Careers in New Jersey
Some forensic scientists in New Jersey seek professional certification or membership through a specialized organization. Both certification and membership have their benefits to forensic scientists, including continuing education and networking possibilities. Organizations include:
- Society of Forensic Toxicologists, Inc.
- New Jersey Association of Forensic Scientists
- Eastern Analytical Symposium & Exposition