Contributed by Joseph R. Petersack, MS
George W. Chin, BS
George W. Chin passed away on September 22, 2016, at the age of 60 after a courageous battle with cancer. At the time of his death, George was a supervisor in the Trace Evidence Unit of the New Jersey State Police Office of Forensic Sciences (NJSP OFS), located in Hamilton, New Jersey. He graduated from John Jay College of Criminal Justice – City University of New York in June of 1979 with a Bachelor of Science in Forensic Science. George started his career with the New Jersey State Police Office of Forensic Sciences in March of 1980 as a Senior Laboratory Technician working in the Equine Testing Unit. He was quickly promoted to a Forensic Chemist position while working in the Toxicology Unit of the North Regional Laboratory. In 1985, he was promoted to a Senior Forensic Chemist and split time in the Toxicology and Trace Evidence Units until 1992, when he became a permanent member of the Trace Evidence Unit. George worked in the OFS Trace Evidence Unit for the past 24 years and became a supervisor in October of 2003.
Throughout his career, George received many accolades and recognitions from prosecutors and investigators for his exemplary work. In 1999, George was awarded the NJSP Office of Forensic Sciences Meritorious Service Award for his outstanding efforts in conducting forensic analyses within the laboratory. George trained and mentored many analysts at the OFS. He was a great role model, who his trainees quickly tried to emulate. George had a great personality and built long-lasting relationships with the many professional colleagues with whom he had the pleasure to work.
During his 37-year tenure at the NJSP OFS, George was a staunch advocate for the field of forensic science, especially trace evidence. He was very proud of his tireless devotion and involvement in several forensic science organizations, specifically the Northeastern Association of Forensic Scientists (NEAFS) and the New Jersey Association of Forensic Scientists (NJAFS). He served on the NEAFS Board of Directors, several committees, and was elected President of NEAFS in 1997. George was honored by NEAFS in 2013 with the distinction of “Life Member” in recognition of his many achievements and contributions to the Organization. He never missed the yearly NEAFS meeting since joining as a student member in 1978, and held the record for longest continual attendance of any member.
George was a founding member of the NJAFS organization in 1991 and served on the Board of Directors and several committees. He attended every yearly NJAFS meeting since 1995, and in 2016 George was recognized as a “Life Member” for his many contributions. In addition, George was a charter member of the American Society of Trace Evidence Examiners (ASTEE) since its inception in 2009, and in 2011 he became one of the first members of the New Jersey Homicide Investigators Association (NJHIA). George was instrumental in helping this new organization get off the ground and provided invaluable guidance and recommendations for the information presented at the yearly NJHIA conferences. Although George only became a member of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences in 2010, he supported the organization’s goals by attending 15 AAFS Annual Scientific Meetings over the years at his own expense.
After the 9/11 tragedy, George volunteered his time on weekends for nine months to assist the New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner (NYC OCME) with the sorting and preparation of samples to be processed for DNA. His efforts helped provide closure to the families who lost loved ones during this tragic event. George was recognized for his efforts with a certificate of appreciation from the NYC OCME.
George proudly represented the OFS in giving countless lectures and training sessions to the law enforcement community in New Jersey. His passion for trace evidence was always evident in each presentation.
Each year George would take on an OFS intern, tutor them, mentor them, and present them with an excellent example of the kind of impact a forensic scientist has with respect to bringing closure to the lives of those individuals who were touched by crime or violence. Many an intern will never forget the lessons George taught them and the guidance he provided during their tenure working with him at the OFS.
George also volunteered his personal time to attend many local high school and community college career days. His presence at these events provided a young person who was thinking about a career in forensic science with all of the information necessary to make an educated decision. There are many young people who chose forensic science as a career after meeting and talking with George, even for just a few minutes. George provided contact information and was always willing to walk them through the process to become a forensic scientist.
George W. Chin was an amazing, kind, generous, caring, and extremely loyal individual. He was an avid golfer, loved the Jets and Yankees, and loved his family very much. George had a passion for forensic science that was second-to-none, and he shared that passion with everyone he met. He touched a lot of people during his too-brief stay here on earth. George will be terribly missed, not only at the OFS, but by the entire forensic science community, and by all those who knew and loved him. His legacy at the NJSP OFS and his impact on the field of forensic science will live forever.