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Major FBI Laboratory Milestones

Major Milestones
A Brief Chronology of the FBI Laboratory, 1923-2007

July 7, 1932
Creation of a “criminological research laboratory” proposed by FBI Agent Charles Appel.

September 1932
Lab equipment set up in Room 802 in the Old Southern Railway Building at 13th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C.

November 24, 1932
Laboratory officially opened for business; called the “Criminology Laboratory.” In its first year, the Lab performed nearly 1,000 examinations.

The National Fraudulent Check File created, containing specimens of the work of fraudulent check artists.

June 1933
Renamed the “Technical Laboratory.”

Polygraph research begun.

September 1934
Moved to the Department of Justice building at 9th and Pennsylvania.

National Automotive Paint File and reference firearms collection established.

First use of polygraph in a criminal case.

Metallurgical services—the study and comparison of metals—offered.

August 1940
FBI Disaster Squad set up, creating a team of experts who can quickly travel to a disaster scene to help authorities identify victims.

The cryptanalysis/translation section formed; microdot cameras first used.

Name changed to the “FBI Laboratory.”

Bank Robbery Note File established.

First use of bank robbery film for clothing identification.

Explosives Unit created following numerous bombings by the Weather Underground.

January 1975
Began offering specialized scientific courses for state and local crime laboratory personnel at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia.

September 1975
Moved to the FBI Headquarters building at 10th and Pennsylvania.

Pioneered the use of laser technology to detect latent crime scene fingerprints.

Digital image processing initiated.

Formal dedication of the Forensic Science Research and Training Center in Quantico, providing forensic science training to state and local crime lab personnel and conducting forensic research.

Racketerring Records Analysis Unit established.

First computer analysis case.

Became first public crime lab in the U.S. to perform DNA analysis.

National DNA database launched as a pilot program.

Computer Analysis and Response Team created to perform forensic exams of computers and other digital media for investigations and intelligence operations.

The Evidence Response Team program launched.

Hazardous Material Response Unit created to provide technical response capability for chemical, biological, and nuclear terrorism incidents and environmental crimes.

Became first crime lab in the country to positively identify individuals based on mitochondrial DNA.

Accredited by the American Society of Criminal Laboratory Directors, Laboratory Accreditation Board.

The Combined DNA Index System, or CODIS, became fully operational.

April 2003
Moved into new, standalone facility at Quantico, Virginia.

December 2003
Terrorist Explosive Device Analytical Center created as a single federal program responsible for the worldwide collection, complete forensic and technical analysis, and timely dissemination of intelligence regarding terrorist bombs.

January 2004
Worked with leaders in Hungary to launch the Forensic Science Training Center, the first international forensic training lab of its kind in the world.

Partnered with regional crime labs to augment the nation’s capacity to perform mitochondrial DNA analysis in forensic and missing persons cases.

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