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Answer to a Criminalist's Prayers

NCJ Number
Forensic Magazine Volume: 2 Issue: 4 Dated: August/September 2005 Pages: 17-21
Ken Francis A.I.A; Harold Messler
Date Published
August 2005
5 pages
The St. Louis Police Department's new $8.5 million forensic laboratory is designed to enhance productivity and crime-solving effectiveness, while improving security and helping prevent the cross contamination of evidence.
The larger facility (40,000 square feet compared to the previous lab's 9,600 square feet) upgrades the lab's ability to test blood, DNA, drug traces, firearms, and other crime-scene evidence. The lab's design has also taken into account the need to provide space for future technologies. The secure first-level garage of the three-story building is used for processing crime-scene vehicles. All other evidence enters the building in the vans of the Evidence Technician Unit. From the vans, evidentiary materials are taken in a secure, designated elevator directly to the lab's third-floor evidence receiving area for check-in, bar-coding, and processing. This article describes in detail the lab's efficient and rapid identification of crack cocaine and the prevention of contamination of DNA evidence. The lab's mechanical systems are designed for a higher-than-average air exchange rate to ensure that smoke from the firearms testing range is quickly removed and prevented from migrating to other areas of the building. The third floor also houses a fingerprint area and photo lab, as well as computer-aided-design graphic facilities for creating crime-scene drawings, maps, and diagrams for trial. The second floor houses the Trace and Arson Evidence Unit, which investigates accidents and cases that involve arson residue, paint, and glass. The building has been wired with fiber optics to appropriate areas in anticipation of technologies that demand ever-increasing bandwidth.