Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Target's Forensic Laboratory: Private Service for Public Agencies

If you want a career as a forensic scientist, you might think of the FBI or your state police or big city police department.  Would you consider Target?  Television brings us dramas about public police.  The newspapers print stories - good and bad - about public police.  But public policing is only about one-third of the market in security and  protection. 

 For over 40 years, the private sector has been larger and growing.  Securitas, headquartered in  Stockholm, Sweden,  employs 90,000 guards in the USA and over a quarter million (280,000) in 45 nations worldwide. They are not the largest, G4S of London, employs 625,000 in 120 countries.  Securitas owns the American companies formerly known as Pinkertons and Burns.  G4S bought the American firm Wackenhut. 

Counting private forensic laboratories is problematic because registration, licensing, and association memberships are not regulated uniformly across states.  Private forensic laboratories are not directly regulated in Michigan.

Thursday, February 09, 2006
Target sets sights on hard-to-crack cases
I got an unusual assignment this week -- Target's crime lab. Yes, I'm talking about that Target, the national "upscale discounter," as they style themselves in the information package the company hands out to reporters.

Turns out Target has one of the most advanced crime labs in the country at its headquarters in Minneapolis, Minnesota. It was initially set up to deal with things like theft, fraud, and personal injury cases in their stores. Now, Target also helps law enforcement agencies nationwide solve crimes, even murders. Target has worked with the Secret Service, the ATF, and the FBI, to name a few.

Target does the work for free, seeing it as a kind of community service. It doesn't advertise its crime lab services, but word started spreading and law enforcement agencies started asking for help. Some government agency labs aren't as well-equipped as Target's. In other cases, Target can get results faster because of logjams in agency labs.

Target's lab is run by an ex-FBI agent and boasts a staff of forensic experts. They spend a lot of time analyzing video from surveillance cameras in their own stores.
Full story here

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