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Scientific Investigations

Mike Newcombe

Mike Newcombe, Captain



200 South Lena Road
San Bernardino, California 92415

(909) 387-2200

Property/Evidence Telephone:
(909) 387-8800


The Scientific Investigations Division is the workplace of 100 law enforcement, scientific, technical and support personnel. SID's mission is to provide forensic support (criminalistics, identification and crime scene investigation) to both Sheriff's stations and divisions, and outside agencies. SID is also home to Sheriff's Central Property/Evidence unit and the photography Laboratory.

The annual budget for SID is near $6.5 million and include approximately $425,000 of a $1 million OCJP grant. The grant is managed by Sheriff's Narcotics and is shared with the San Bernardino County District Attorney, Probation and a number of city police departments.

In 1986, San Bernardino and Riverside counties entered into a regional partnership known as CAL-ID. Today, CAL-ID provides DNA and AFIS (Automated Fingerprint Identification System) services to all member agencies in both counties. A per capita assessment combined with penalty assessments and fine monies comprises the annual budget for these CAL-ID services.

Alcohol and Drugs

In 2005, approximately 8,000 analyses were done in an average of four days after submission. These same analysts are also responsible for maintaining the breath alcohol instruments used by officers throughout the County. This year, about 4,500 subjects were tested. The analysts have also trained nearly 1,700 peace officers in the use of breath alcohol instruments in the past two years.

During the 1990s, there were a significantly high number of clandestine lab investigations (nearly 700 per year). This number has dwindled to 59 in 2005. Clandestine laboratories range from producing small personal use amounts, manufactured in kitchens and garages, to large-scale, sophisticated, well-organized operations capable of turning out multi-point quantities. Criminalists respond to these scenes to collect samples and process the crime scenes. After analyzing the chemical samples, it has been found that over 95% of these investigations have involved the synthesis of methamphetamine from ephedrine or pseudoephedrine.

The firearms unit has replaced its obsolete DRUGFIRE computer with a new computer network-IBIS stores the images of fired cartridge cases, allowing an examiner to compare evidence samples submitted to SID's lab against samples submitted to other laboratories throughout the United States . This system automatically searches all stored images for matching or similar minutia against every new image being entered into the data bank. The system also allowed a technician to enter images into the computer from locations outside the actual laboratory through the use of a portable device called an RBI (Rapid Brass Identification).

Crime Scene Investigations

This unit is currently comprised of 12 Crime Scene Specialist who respond to and process major crime scenes. They are responsible for the collection and preservation of any evidence from those scenes whether it is biological, trace, latent or physical in nature.

CSI personnel responded to over 450 requests for service during the calendar year 2005. About 55% of the requests were to unincorporated Sheriff's jurisdictions, 35% to contract cities and the remaining 10 % to other than Sheriff's jurisdictions. An additional duty for CSI is the technical processing of items submitted for latent fingerprinting by stations, divisions and outside agencies. These items range in size from small bindles of narcotics to Peterbilt-18-wheelers. In 2005, CSI processed from 6,700 items of evidence representing 1,440 actual cases.


Employees of the CAL-ID section perform a variety of functions involving fingerprints. The two major areas are tenprints and latents.

Tenprints work involves comparison of submitted rolles impressions to actual fingerprint cards. The comparisons generally relate to DMV casework, bad checks, wanted persons and identification of deceased persons. This unit also is responsible for constantly monitoring the submitted fingerprints of all subjects being booked to ensure they are not being booked under another identify. In 2005, tenprints processed nearly 106,500 requested comparisons.

The latent unit's work involves the comparison of fingerprints lifted from crime scenes to an actual fingerprint card. In 2005, the examiners handled nearly 21,000 submitted latents, positively identifying about 1,500.

SBPD Homicide

In November 1999, a local San Bernardino businessman was found murdered in his store. CSI personnel assisted SBPD in processing the scene and were able to locate and lift some latent fingerprints. The latents were entered into the AFIS system in 1999, but no match was found. In September 2001, the FBI and CAL-ID updated their software and one of the latents from the homicide scene hit. The latent, lifted from a catalog on the store's front counter, belonged to a San Bernardino resident, arrested in Texas fifteen days after the SBPD homicide. This was his only arrest.

There was no doubt that this latent could possibly have been left innocently by the citizen, but a bloody palm print lifted from the side of the victims face could not have been. A few days later, SBPD investigators submitted the citizens palm prints. The bloody latent matched the rolled palm. The young man was arrested and convicted for the crimes.


In a SBPD statutory rape/paternity case, a 36-year-old male was alleged to have fathered a child by a 16-year-old girl. DNA samples were submitted to a local lab and the results were 99.99%+ that the man was the father.

Upon contact with the District Attorney, it was learned that the man was a convicted rapist who had been shot by Colton police officers long before he fathered the child. Ironically, he was currently suing the Colton Police Department alleging that he is permanently confined to a wheelchair and is impotent as a result of the shooting.

Proposition 69
With the passage of Proposition 69 convicted felons must submit a DNA sample for a database search (CODIS) against unsolved crimes. This has lead to numerous unsolved cases being solved with DNA technology. In 2005, 101 unsolved cases were entered into this database and 29 returned with a hit to a suspect. As the database grows and we continue to enter more samples into the database the percentage of hits should continue to rise.