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Frequently Asked Questions - Forensic Science Center
General Questions (5)
The OSBI participates in a practicum student program, in which college students can partake. There is an online application that must be completed and returned. In addition, please submit a copy of your transcript with the application. University of Central Oklahoma (UCO) students should coordinate the practicum through Dr. Adams. Applicants from universities that are not partnered with the OSBI will need a faculty sponsor and to be enrolled for college credit in a course compatible with the field of interest. A letter of recommendation from your faculty sponsor along with the application materials must be mailed to:
OSBI Human Resources
Attn: Practicum Program
6600 N Harvey Place
Oklahoma City, OK 73116
The practicum program will typically involve a short rotation through each of the OSBI forensic units, and each student will then be assigned a specific discipline where he/she will gain laboratory experience in that particular discipline. The application for the practicum program must be submitted before the following dates:
- A spring semester practicum application be must received no later than the third week in September prior to the spring semester.
- A summer semester practicum application must be received no later than the third week in February prior to the summer semester.
- A fall semester practicum application must be received no later than the third week in February prior to the fall semester.
Click here for more information and a full list of the opportunities and other information at the OSBI.
The Firearms and Toolmarks Unit is unable to release case information to civilians. Please, contact the case agent or investigating agency for information regarding your property.
Information regarding Firearms cases that may have a need to have comparisons to other geographical locations:
The Integrated Ballistics Identification System (IBIS) is the equipment and program used to upload images of fired cartridge cases into the National Integrated Ballistics Identification Network (NIBIN), which is maintained by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). Using crime data, the ATF has established ‘default,’ or automatic search areas, for each IBIS unit. The OSBI’s IBIS unit is automatically searched to the following jurisdictions: ATF-Walnut Creek (CA), Tulsa PD (OK), Oklahoma City PD (OK), Fort Worth PD (TX), FBI (nationally), Dallas PD (TX), Arlington PD (TX), Albuquerque PD (NM) and Mesquite PD (TX). What this means to officers in Oklahoma is that when you submit a firearm or fired cartridge case to the OSBI for entry into NIBIN, your evidence is only searched/compared to evidence from those areas listed above. Your evidence is not automatically searched/compared against NIBIN entries from across the entire nation.
There are times when an officer has an investigative lead that may require that we expand our NIBIN search to include NIBIN entries from other areas of the United States. When this occurs, a manual correlation may be requested and conducted. This may be done by IBIS region, state, or even specific city.
Some examples of situations that may indicate that we need to expand the search area include:
- A subject with past violent criminal history outside of the automatic IBIS search area;
- A subject with known travel plans to/from locations that have them traveling through Oklahoma and on to other states;
- A subject with past residences outside of the automatic IBIS search area; or
- A firearm associated with possible drug trafficking across states.
If the need arises to have the firearm(s) and/or fired cartridge case(s) from crime scenes compared to another geographical location, contact the OBSI Firearm and Toolmark Unit to discuss an additional search.
At this time, it is not feasible to compare every firearm and/or fired cartridge case from crime scenes to the whole nation. This not only delays the results from being returned, it also delays results being returned to other agencies, as the program and servers can only perform so many correlations at a time. This is why we ask each agency to contact the OSBI Firearm and Toolmark Unit when asking for a manual correlation, to ensure our resources are used optimally.
If your agency has any unsolved cases that may benefit from a manual correlation to another region outside of the automatic IBIS search area and has already been submitted and entered by the OSBI, this manual correlation can likely be performed without the re-submission of that evidence. Please, contact the OSBI Firearm and Toolmark Unit to further discuss this potential investigative lead.
If you have any further questions or comments, please, do not hesitate to contact the OSBI Firearm and Toolmark Unit at 405-330-6724 or toll-free at 800-522-8253.
In compliance with Title 63 Oklahoma Statutes, Sections 2-507 and 2-505(B), the OSBI will accept controlled dangerous substances and drug paraphernalia as defined by the Uniform Controlled Dangerous Substances Act. Chemicals for destruction should be packaged separately from controlled dangerous substances and drug paraphernalia.
Syringes and sharp objects must be packaged in a puncture-proof container.
The following types of items will NOT be accepted by the OSBI for destruction:
- Biohazardous materials or items contaminated with biohazard substances (blood, semen, etc.)
- Explosives of any kind, including firecrackers and ammunition
Download and fill out the OSBI Kit & Supply Request Form (PDF)
Evidence Packaging & Submittal (7)
Download and review the Ignitable Liquid Packaging PowerPoint pdf
The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation laboratories will receive evidence for examination either by personal delivery or by mail with the following exception: Handguns, Long Guns (Rifles and/or Shotguns), and most Forensic Biology evidence must be submitted in person. Sexual assault kits and known DNA reference samples can be mailed to the laboratory for analysis. It is recommended that if evidence is submitted by mail, a tracked method is utilized. Click here to view the Evidence Guidelines memo from March 2022.
Toxicology evidence is typically submitted by mail through a carrier service (United States Postal Service, UPS, or Federal Express). Evidence may also be received in person from submitting officers.
No. For safety concerns, firearms may not be mailed for submission. However, the following OSBI laboratory evidence-receiving locations (Tahlequah, McAlester, Lawton) accept firearms evidence and will transfer such evidence to the Firearms and Toolmarks Unit located in Edmond, OK.
All firearms must be unloaded when submitted – no exceptions. Firearms should be submitted in a handgun box or manila envelope with all factory seals reinforced with tape and initials. For firearms evidence not needing Biology and/or Latent Print analysis, the item may be submitted in a sealed plastic bag. Loose ammunition should never be packaged in the same container as a firearm.
Download the Evidence Acceptance Guidelines and follow the instructions.
Firearms & Toolmarks (4)
Revolvers, single shot and/or break-open shotguns, lever action rifles, bolt action rifles or shotguns, antiques / muzzle loaders / blackpowder, or hunting rifle calibers (i.e. 30-06 SPRG, 7mm Mauser, 303 British, 308 WIN, 243 WIN).
- Semi-automatic pistols of the following calibers:
- 22 LR / 22 Long Rifle
- 25 Auto / 25 ACP
- 32 Auto / 32 ACP
- 380 Auto / 9mm kurz / 9mm Corto
- 9x18 MAK / 9x18 Makarov
- 9mm Luger / 9mm Parabellum
- 357 SIG
- 40 S&W / 40 Auto
- 10mm Auto
- 45 Auto / 45 ACP
- Semi-automatic rifles of the following calibers:
- 22 LR / 22 Long Rifle
- 223 REM / 5.56x45mm (example: AR-15)
- 7.62x39mm (example: AK-47)
- Rifles that fire any of the above pistol calibers
- Pump-action shotguns
- Semi-automatic shotguns
IBIS stands for the Integrated Ballistics Identification System. It is a database of cartridge case images. When a cartridge case is entered into the system, a proprietary algorithm returns a list of possible ‘matches.’ IBIS does not identify a specific firearm but rather provides investigative leads that must be verified on a comparison microscope by a firearms examiner.
Forensic Biology (13)
DNA analysis will not be performed on brief contact items. Brief contact items are those items considered unlikely to contain sufficient transfer of
skin cells to the object. Examples of brief contact items would include door handles, counter tops, etc. Touch DNA analysis can be performed on
items that would result in skin cells being left on objects due to extended contact. Examples of Touch DNA extended contact items would include
some clothing, cigarette butts, straws, bottles, cans, etc.
1. The evidence submitted has to be from a crime scene
2. The evidence cannot be seized from the suspect’s person or his possession
3. The profiles developed are not from the victim(s)
Please remember evidence can be informative for your case without being CODIS eligible; for example, victim blood on suspect pants.
For additional guidance or to discuss a specific case, please contact the CODIS Unit.
Offender samples used by the DNA Databank do not have an associated chain of custody and are generally inadmissible in court. A new sample is needed to do a direct comparison between the individual listed in the CODIS hit letter and your case. No statistical analysis can be performed without a known DNA sample.
No, the offender collection kits are for the DNA Databank only. They do not have a chain of custody associated with them, and are not considered
evidence. You do not need a special kit to collect a known DNA sample. Using sterile swabs and storing them in a sealed evidence envelope is
No, offender DNA samples/profiles are confidential and cannot be released for use in a civil case. Other samples to consider: paternal grandparents,
paternal (full) siblings, medical samples such as biopsy slides, or teeth.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation facilitates the use of a national DNA database, which is called the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS)
database. It can be used to search profiles within the state of Oklahoma and throughout the United States. CODIS is a useful tool in providing
investigative leads to law enforcement agencies throughout the state. It is particularly useful when there are no suspects or a suspect has not yet
been developed. CODIS is also providing useful information on cold cases.
Yes, if there is no suspect and there is evidence from the crime scene, a DNA profile can be obtained and entered into the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) database to attempt to develop an investigative lead. If there is a CODIS hit to an unknown suspect, then a hit letter will be sent to the investigator. At that time a known buccal swab should be obtained from the individual and submitted to the laboratory. Comparisons will then be made between the known reference sample and the evidence submitted.
In most cases, the amount of sample that is required for DNA analysis is minimal, and every effort is made to keep at least half of the stain for additional testing if necessary. If a sample will be consumed in testing, the laboratory will contact the assigned officer or District Attorney’s office to obtain written permission to consume the sample.
Every case is different. An analysis is dependent on the number of samples that were submitted and the current backlog of the laboratory at the time. The duty biologist or supervisor of the laboratory analyzing the evidence may be contacted to get an estimate of the turn-around time. Estimates should not be mistaken for guaranteed time frames.
A known reference sample is a DNA sample obtained from a particular individual (i.e. buccal swab from a victim or suspect). Known reference samples should be collected as buccal swabs. A buccal swab is a swabbing of the inside of a person’s cheek and gum area. A sterile swab should be used when taking a known reference sample. A minimum of two swabs should be used, and these swabs should be taken at the same time. The swabs should be allowed to air dry in a swab box or another appropriate container. The packaging should be clearly labeled with the individual's name. The buccal swabs do not need to be refrigerated. Known reference samples from the medical examiner’s office are typically submitted on a blood card.
Samples should be collected in a way that will avoid sample destruction and degradation. Biological evidence is best preserved in a dry, cooler
environment. Items of evidence should be packaged in brown paper sacks, evidence envelopes, or similar packaging material. Biological
evidence should never be packaged in plastic bags. Specific packaging information can be found in the Evidence Collection Manual.
Biological evidence must be retained in accordance with Title 22 S 1372-A. "A criminal justice agency having...custody of biological evidence from a violent felony offense...shall retain and preserve that biological evidence for such a period of time as any individual convicted of that crime remains incarcerated."
Forensic Toxicology (8)
Storage of specimens shall be accomplished in such manner to uphold the identity and integrity of specimens, maintain chain of custody, exclude tampering with and unauthorized access to or exchange or loss of specimens, and provide requisite security for evidentiary purposes. Refrigeration of biological samples is recommended.
Contact the Criminalist who issued the report.
Blood samples should be collected in grey top tubes (or equivalent) containing 10% potassium oxalate and sodium fluoride to preserve the samples. The OSBI provides grey top tubes and/or blood vials containing these preservatives to customers (OSBI Blood Specimen Collection Kit or Drug Facilitated Sexual Assault Kits). Hospital or clinical specimens containing serum or plasma collected pursuant to medical treatment may also be submitted. NOTE: Serum/plasma ethanol concentrations are higher than corresponding whole blood concentrations.
The Toxicology Lab will also analyze urine (drug-facilitated sexual assaults) and unknown liquids believed to contain alcohol (alcoholic beverage content).
Yes, the OSBI Toxicology Lab is accredited by the American National Standards Institute National Accreditation Board (ANAB). Learn about the OSBI Forensic Science Center lab accreditation.
The defendant’s retention specimen will be retained for 60 days from the date of collection in accordance with Title 47 O.S. § 752. Remaining specimens involving impaired driving may be destroyed after 4 months from the date received by the OSBI.
You or your attorney may request an independent test of your blood sample at your own expense. You are responsible for making all necessary arrangements for the independent testing of your sample.
Click here for the form to request independent testing of your blood sample.
For defense attorney's requesting independent testing of their client's blood sample, please fill out the letter template here, print the letter template on your firm's official letterhead and mail to:
Oklahoma State Bureau of investigation
Attn: Toxicology Unit
800 E. 2nd Street
Edmond, OK 73034
The request can also be faxed to 405-330-6974 or emailed to [email protected].
You or your attorney can contact the District Attorney in the county of offense, the Department of Public Safety, or you may send a letter to the OSBI requesting your blood test results. Click here for the form to request a copy of your blood test results.
For defense attorney's requesting the blood test results for their client, please fill out the letter template here, print the letter template on your firm's official letterhead and mail to:
Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation
Attn: Toxicology Unit
800 E. 2nd Street
Edmond, OK 73034
The request can also be faxed to 405-330-6974 or emailed to [email protected].