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A crime laboratory - often shortened to crime lab - is a scientific laboratory, using primarily forensic science for the purpose of examining evidence from criminal cases.
A typical crime lab has two sets of personnel:
In the United States, crime labs may be publicly or privately operated, although private laboratories typically do not respond to crime scenes to collect evidence. Public crime labs are organized at the city, county, state, or national level. A law enforcement agency that does not operate its own crime lab usually has free access to a higher level laboratory for analysis of their evidence. Most states have their own crime labs, for instance Oklahoma has the OSBI, many other places have smaller yet still sufficient crime labs.
The Los Angeles Police Department founded the first crime laboratory in the United States (1923), followed by the Bureau of Investigation (1926), forerunner to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. (Every Contact Leaves a Trace, Connie Fletcher, St. Martin's Press, New York, 2006, interview with crime lab director)
The term "crime lab" has become a part of popular culture, largely due to the TV dramas. Some of the more famous shows are:
Several non-fiction television programs, document the resolution of criminal cases based on the scientific analysis of the evidence: