Bureau Organization

     The Montgomery County Detective Bureau is the investigative arm of the District Attorney's Office. Chief of Detectives Mark Bernstiel supervises the bureau, consisting of sworn and non-sworn personnel. County detectives are responsible for investigating and preparing various types of criminal cases for prosecution, as well as assisting local law enforcement personnel. County detectives work closely with crime intelligence analysts and Assistant District Attorneys to ensure the most effective investigation and prosecution of criminal activity.
     Investigations include homicides, overdose deaths, complex drug investigations, gun violence, child abuse, sex crimes, cyber-crimes, organized retail thefts, white-collar crimes, and elder abuse. The Detective Bureau is continually making advances and working with regional law enforcement partners to ensure the safety of all residents and visitors to the county.

     The Homicide Unit is comprised of highly trained and experienced detectives with a combined average of 27 years of law enforcement experience with agencies throughout Montgomery County. Homicide detectives investigate with all murder, manslaughter, homicide and suspicious deaths, working side-by-side with relevant local and state police jurisdictions. Per protocol, the Homicide Unit independently investigates any police-involved shootings that occur in the county. Unit detectives also assist with locating and apprehending fugitives charged with homicide-related offenses.

     The Violent Crime Unit (VCU) works proactively to identify, disrupt, arrest and prosecute the most violent offenders in Montgomery County. They use a multi-layered investigative approach and various investigative techniques to investigate:

  • weapon violations
  • aggravated assaults
  • home invasions
  • gang activity
  • illegal procurement of firearms – straw purchasing/gun trafficking

     VCU also works alongside members of the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Gun Violence Reduction Task Force to positively impact areas affected by gun violence.

     The Special Services Unit (SSU) provides support for the Detective Bureau. The Unit is responsible for the CLEAN/NCIC terminals, as well as Livescan and Photo Imaging Systems that are linked to the Pennsylvania State Police fingerprint (AFIS) and photograph (CPIN) databases.
     The unit is also responsible for all evidence collected and seized by the Detective Bureau to include court exhibits and evidence from other law enforcement agencies used during criminal prosecutions.
     Additionally, the unit is responsible for receiving and reviewing complaints submitted by county residents concerning any issue. These complaints are wide-ranging, from neighbor disagreements to problems with public agencies. While most complaints turn out to be civil in nature, each is carefully evaluated for possible criminal issues.

     TRAC is comprised of a team of analysts who leverage technology to perform comprehensive research and analysis on targeted individuals to further investigations and support prosecutions. TRAC’s mission is to collect, evaluate, analyze and disseminate large volumes of highly specialized criminal investigative information from a multitude of sources to further the objectives of the Detective Bureau and the District Attorney’s Office as a whole.  

     The Major Crimes Unit is charged with investigating crimes that are considered to be high-profile, unique, time intensive and particularly complex. Some of these crimes include:

  • organized retail crimes
  • fraud
  • identity theft
  • elder abuse
  • assaults
  • public corruption
  • missing persons

     With the complex nature of these investigations, detectives assigned to this unit possess a variety of specialties including digital forensics, cryptocurrency, cell site mapping and interviewing. The unit also provides assistance to local law enforcement with these types of investigations.

     The Special Victims Unit (SVU) investigative focus is on child abuse, child exploitation, sexual assault, domestic violence and human trafficking. SVU enjoys strong working relationships with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the FBI. SVU detectives are active members of the nationwide Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force, a program organized and funded under the U.S. Department of Justice that trains law enforcement officers at the local, state and federal levels to combat online exploitation of children.

     The Forensic Services Unit (FSU) is committed to delivering state-of-the-art scientific analysis and investigative services to all communities in Montgomery County. FSU's primary responsibility is to assist police agencies in managing and processing crime scenes. FSU investigators are highly trained and skilled in:   

  • photography
  • crime scene reconstruction and mapping
  • collecting and preserving DNA and other trace evidence
  • developing and identifying latent fingerprints
  • Rapid DNA technology
  • firearms and ballistic examinations
  • NIBIN evaluation and entry

     FSU is a National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN) hub, providing agencies with investigative lead information on potentially linked shooting incidents. The NIBIN hub has two certified firearms examiners and a NIBIN technician who analyze all crime guns, associated firearm components and ammunition seized within the county.
     FSU also has a certified latent fingerprint examiner to examine latent prints with access to an Automated Fingerprint Identification System terminal. And finally, the unit operates a Rapid DNA machine used to assist agencies with real-time investigative information.

     The Narcotics Enforcement Team (NET) represents the drug enforcement arm of the District Attorney’s Office specializing in full-time investigations of high-level to mid-level drug traffickers. The Unit uses every tool, including electronic surveillance, to accomplish its mission. Members of NET supervise more than 400 local police officers that comprise the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Local Drug Task Force. These officers are trained in the investigation of street-level drug traffickers.
     Additionally, in response to the soaring overdose death rate, Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin R. Steele created the Montgomery County Opioid Task Force in April 2017 and prioritized overdose death investigations. The mission of the task force is to investigate, arrest and prosecute individuals for homicide if found to be responsible for delivering drugs, like heroin and/or fentanyl, that cause the death of another person.