Criminal Justice Update
Media > Newsletters > On the Job: Criminal Justice Update > Winter 2019 > Local law enforcement officials say Ohio BCI 'makes us better'

On the Job RSS feeds

Criminal Justice Update

Local law enforcement officials say Ohio BCI 'makes us better'


By Dave Yost | Ohio Attorney General

A strength of the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation is that it puts the latest forensic science in reach for all law enforcement forces in Ohio, regardless of the size of their budgets.

Many local police departments and sheriff’s offices can’t afford to staff their own crime labs to analyze DNA, drugs, ballistics and other significant crime scene evidence. And justice should never come down to cash.

That’s, in part, why Stark County Sheriff George T. Maier noted the importance of the longstanding commitment between local law enforcement, BCI and the Attorney General’s Office in working together to make communities safer for our families.

“The rapid and specific advances in crime scene investigation make it difficult — the economics being what they are — for each agency across the state to go out and purchase new technologies and perform those tasks,” Maier said. “Having teams available and ready to meet the need is a huge benefit to us.”

Stark County has its own crime lab, but the Sheriff’s Office relies on the state crime lab for CODIS, Ohio’s DNA tracking system; DNA profiles; and rape kit testing, he said.

BCI played an instrumental role in a recent Central Ohio rape case involving two teens, said Delaware County Prosecutor Carol O’Brien, who will be Deputy Attorney General for Law Enforcement.

“Rape cases are tough,” she said. “Victims are counting on prosecutors to make things right, and that means we have to have all the facts and be able to present them in the clearest and most persuasive way.”

In the weeks leading up to trial, O’Brien’s office and BCI conferred on what evidence testing showed and how the results corroborated the victim’s account. 

The defendant ultimately entered an admission. O’Brien credits that, in part, to how the BCI analyst broke down a complex series of DNA results. 

“Our case was stronger and our office is stronger because of the collaborative relationship with BCI and its analysts,” she said.

Last year, law enforcement submitted more than 160,000 items to BCI for lab services. BCI’s crime labs tested more than 47,000 DNA samples. 

Other lab services the bureau provides include crime scene and cybercrime investigation, fingerprint identification, and analysis of drug chemistry, firearms and tool marks, latent prints, documents and trace evidence. 

BCI can help local law enforcement with wiretaps, GPS tracking, polygraphs, unsolved homicides and investigating police-involved shootings, as it did recently for the Clark County Sheriff’s Office.

“They completed a thorough investigation while providing our office with reports and findings in a timely manner,” said Sheriff Deborah K. Burchett.

 “Their investigators conduct investigations on high-profile cases with professionalism and objectivity,” Burchett said. “We will always be indebted to the services BCI provides.”

BCI also runs OHLEG and CODIS, keeps all state criminal records, processes background checks, researches and predicts crime trends, prepares visual aids for use at trials, and operates the Missing Persons Unit.

“I guarantee that Ohio residents don’t understand or appreciate the amount of work conducted by staff on an annual basis and the outstanding professional services that are provided,” said new BCI Superintendent Joe Morbitzer.

He puts a priority on being at the forefront of the latest technology and investigative techniques.

“If we focus on today or tomorrow, we will be behind, obsolete and irrelevant.”  

Local law enforcement can appreciate that.

“As needs change, like with the opioid crisis we’ve been dealing with for four to five years, we can work together to update investigative techniques,” Stark County Sheriff Maier said. “It makes us better at what we do, and with that comes safer communities.”