Physical Evidence Handbook

Field Response Unit

The role of the Field Response Unit was clearly defined when the Crime Laboratory System was established in 1947 under State Statute 165.75. Currently, the Madison, Milwaukee and Wausau laboratories staff on-call response teams 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to respond to calls from law enforcement agencies for assistance at major crime scenes, typically homicides, and autopsies. (The Laboratory is authorized by state statute to decline to provide Laboratory services in any matter not involving a potential felony charge.) When requested by an authorized law enforcement or government official, the Laboratory system provides a team of trained scientific staff to assist in processing the crime scene. Mobile units are equipped to aid in the recognition, documentation, recovery, and preservation of physical materials which may have evidentiary value, and to transport these materials to the Laboratory for processing. Laboratory personnel are not vested with power of arrest and, therefore, require that suitable law enforcement personnel be present to protect and assist laboratory personnel when processing scenes for physical evidence.

Authorized government officials include the Sheriff, Chief of Police, Coroner, Attorney General, Medical Examiner, Governor, District Attorney or head of any State Agency. The Laboratory also cooperates with federal agencies.

Volunteers are drawn from the scientific staff of each Unit of the Laboratory. They receive specialized forensic training in crime scene photography, blood stain pattern analysis, casting, body fluid collection, blood borne pathogens, fingerprint and footwear development and recovery, computer recovery, bullet path reconstruction, buried body recovery and processing vehicles. Laboratory examinations are not conducted in the field.