Major Anna Cavanagh
Lab Director
(803) 576-3097

Investigative Units

Crime Scene Unit

Crime Lab Unit

Major Crimes


Polygraph Unit

Property Crimes

Special Victims

Victims Assistance

Send a crime tip

Send a narcotics tip

CID phone extensions


Crime Lab

Forensic Laboratory Objectives

  • Service.  To provide quality service to its customers.
  • Training and Education.  To provide training to RCSD personnel and the quality management system; and to provide continuing education to our customers.
  • Accreditation.  To maintain laboratory quality, excellence and reliability by conforming to international standards.
  • Review. To practically review and monitor the quality management system for potential nonconformity to standards.
  • Survey and Communication. To conduct surveys and maintain communication with customers and personnel.


This unit offers DNA testing to include criminal paternity testing with the 13 core CODIS FBI STR loci. Forensic DNA or "DNA Fingerprinting" takes advantage of the fact that with the exception of identical twins, each person's DNA is unique. This exam includes or excludes individuals as being contributors (or the source of stains) on a variety of items of evidence.

CODIS, or the Combined DNA Indexing System, is a database of DNA profiles of convicted offenders and forensic cases. DNA results can be entered into the state and national DNA database to produce possible investigative leads. DNA profiles developed in the RCSD unit are entered into CODIS as appropriate.

Drug Analysis

Forensic drug identification involves the chemical and instrumental analysis of suspected controlled substances evidence obtained during an arrest or seizure. Compounds may be prescription or over-the counter medications, illicit substances, or adulterants and diluents. Qualitative analysis is performed in order to identify the substance(s) present. Forensic drug chemists are also asked to identify drug paraphernalia and unknown substances from the death scene in order to provide support to the coroner and medical examiner in the assessment of cause and manner of death.

The forensic section also provides clandestine laboratory response. which involves the assessment, dismantling, and analysis of evidence obtained from laboratories engaged in the production of illicit drugs (i.e. methamphetamine).

Firearms / Tool Marks

The Firearms and Tool Marks section provides:

  • comparison of unfired ammunition;
  • comparison of fired bullets, bullet fragments, cartridge cases, and shotgun shells;
  • restoration of obliterated or altered serial numbers;
  • tool mark examination and comparisons;
  • fracture match analysis;
  • firearm function testing; and
  • the identification of firearms and firearms components.

Examiners also process and test fire firearms for entry into the National Integrated Ballistics Information Network (NIBIN) database via the SLED Integrated Ballistics Identification System (IBIS) terminal.

Examiners provide onsite support at crime scenes to assist in the collection of relevant evidence. They may also perform trajectory analysis and shooting scene reconstructions.

Fire Debris

Fire debris analysis involves the examination of evidence for the presence of ignitable liquids (most commonly gasoline, diesel fuel, or kerosene). Cases may have no ignitable liquids present, but this does not mean the fire was not arson. Fire debris chemists assist arson investigators, but arson investigators are responsible for determining whether a fire is the result of arson or accident. Fire debris chemists also provide onsite support at fire scenes to assist in the collection, preservation, and documentation of evidence.

Chronology of Forensic Science Division

  • 1969: Crime scene response unit established.
  • 1994: AFIS installed.
  • 1997: Sheriff Leon Lott takes office.
  • 2002: Drug Identification unit opens.
  • 2002: Fire Debris Analysis unit opens.
  • 2003: Firearms/tool Marks unit opens.
  • 2004: DNA unit opens.
  • 2006: ASCLD/Lab - International Accreditation - DNA
  • 2009: ASCLD/Lab - International Accreditation - Entire laboratory

Quick Links:

RCSD Evidence and Property Handbook  revised 09/05/2018

Statement for Our Customers

Request for RCSD Forensic Analysis   revised 03/11/2020

Forensic Sciences Laboratory Survey  added 11/22/2019

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5623 Two Notch Road 
Columbia, South Carolina 29223 
(803) 576-3000 phone (803) 576-3195 fax

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