CSI Albany

Crime Scene tape.jpg

Because you never know when you'll need crime scene tape.

By Jessica Pasko

So if you're looking for, say, SWAT team clothing or forensic evidence receptacles, look no further. Apparently you can satisfy all your CSI needs right here in the Capital Region.


It turns out that one of the biggest vendors of crime scene products and other law enforcement supplies has been right here in good old Albany for 82 years.

And, as it happens, the sales staff at National Law Enforcement Supply looks a little like they just stepped out of the cast of CSI.

NLES President Roberta Berkowitz says the company originally began as Aremac (that's camera spelled backwards) in 1927, providing photographic services and supplies. That led them to providing photographic services for law enforcement professionals. From there, the company segued into selling all sorts of products nationally to sheriff's departments, police departments, crime labs and more.

Those products run the gamut from drug test kits to ID badge software to pistol-mounted cameras and much more. Think of all the little gadgets and items you see on shows like "CSI" and "Forensic Files." Finger printing kits? Check. Gunshot residue collection kits? Check. Evidence baggies? Check.

NLES doesn't sell on-line or in a retail shop. Most of its sales are done through trade shows --- yes, there are actually trade shows for police -- while the rest is all done by phone.

Which brings me to the people selling this stuff. Is it me, or do they look like the cast of a CSI TV show? About half the staff at NLES are women, and if the web site is any indication, many of them are, well, fairly young and attractive. That's not meant to be flippant or disparaging -- just an observation. If anything, I thought that was really sort of cool.

Berkowitz says no one's really pointed that out to her before, but she says a lot more women have gone into the forensics fields in the past several years. She credits the popularity of shows like the various "CSI" series for inspiring a lot of people -- kind of like how '80s legal series "L.A. Law" led a lot of people to pursue law degrees. And all jokes aside, she says she works with a really great group of woman who are all very talented.

"We have a lot of males here, too," she insists.

Her staff must be pretty dedicated -- Berkowitz says the company makes about 3000- 4000 telesales calls per week, and with very few exceptions, its clients are almost exclusively in law enforcement. The company also sells certain supplies directly to police officers through an off-shoot called Officer Outfitter. That includes items a particular department may not provide, like certain types of flashlights or key rings, along with uniform-type supplies and things like special bras for female law enforcement officials.

NLES usually sells to entire departments and secures contracts with them, but that doesn't mean you can't pick up your very own fingerprint lifter or a water shield for your camera. You know, in case you feel the need to try replicating episodes of "Dexter" at home or something.

Photo: Flicker user [puamelia]

Find It

National Law Enforcement Supply
226 N. Allen St.
Albany, NY 12206


Hey, I work there...


Always fascinating to find nationally/internationally known companies who are headquartered here.

I drive past there every day and had no idea!

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