The crime lab was opened in May of 1970 by Ray Herd, in conjunction with the Caddo Parish Police Jury, Caddo Parish District Attorney, John Richardson, and Caddo Parish Coroner, Dr. Stuart DeLee, as the Northwest Louisiana Criminalistics Laboratory, serving 10 parishes of northwest Louisiana.
Ray Herd had formerly been the director of the Louisiana State Police Crime Laboratory in Baton Rouge. By 1981, additional parishes from the northeastern and central parts of the state had joined the Laboratory Commission, the laboratory governing body. Branch labs were opened in West Monroe in 1973, and Alexandria in 1976.
In 1981, legislation was passed to change the name of the commission and the laboratory to North Louisiana Criminalistics Laboratory, bringing the total number of parishes served to 26. Since that time the parishes of Avoyelles, Catahoula, and Vernon have joined the Commission, bringing the number of parishes served to 29.
Member parishes of the NLCL Commission are: Bienville, Bossier, Caddo, Claiborne, Desoto, Lincoln, Natchitoches, Red River, Sabine, Webster, Caldwell, Concordia, East Carroll, Franklin, Grant, Jackson, LaSalle, Madison, Morehouse, Ouachita, Rapides, Richland, Tensas, Union, West Carroll, Winn, Avoyelles, Catahoula and Vernon.
The NLCL service area has a population base of 1.1 million. The service area includes: 17 of 40 Judicial Districts, 28 of 105 Louisiana House of Representatives Districts, 11 of 39 Louisiana Senate Districts, and 3 of 7 U.S. Congressional Districts (4th, 5th and 6th).
The NLCL Commission is composed of one member from each parish appointed by the parish police jury or other governing body. Commission members are usually selected from parish criminal justice community figures such as the Sheriff, District Attorney, Coroner, or Chief of Police, but may be anyone the Police Jury or governing body wishes to appoint. In addition, the D.A., Coroner, and Sheriff of the parish of domicile of the headquarters lab are ex officio members of the Commission.
"The NLCL provides services, free of charge, to any law enforcement agency in the above listed parishes, including: all local Police Departments, Sheriff’s Offices, Coroner’s, Fire Departments, State Fire Marshall, State Police, Federal agencies (FBI, ATF, DEA) and Military Bases.