Detectives in Wyoming, Michigan, say that a newly opened crime lab will allow them to process evidence in a matter of a day or two, instead of waiting out the usual weeks-long process through the Michigan State Police lab.
A converted dark room and new forensic equipment “will give us a faster turnaround time,” says Lieutenant Detective Joe Steffes. He also says that the lab will pay itself off in about seven years, as the state would pay the city every time the forensic scientists utilize the equipment. It is anticipated that they will receive about $15,000 in reimbursements from the state per year for not using the state lab.
A Practical Solution to an Overwhelmed System
The new Wyoming Police Crime Lab is a practical solution to waiting for the State’s overburdened crime lab which, due to a backlog of cases, now takes as long as three weeks to return simple blood work from a drunken driving case. Now, the city can perform in-house blood tests and complete arson investigations.
The Wyoming City Council recently approved spending $100,000 on equipment for the police department’s forensic unit, which consists of five employees. The equipment will allow forensic scientists to test blood for drugs and alcohol, to confirm the presence of a drug and its authenticity, and to examine charred evidence for the presence of accelerants.
The Wyoming Police Department anticipates they will also need an additional $10,000 to $20,000 to renovate the space within the police station for the new lab.
Improving the turnaround time for testing will speed up prosecutions. The city’s crime lab is not in place to bypass the state police, say crime lab officials, but rather to become more efficient. The city will also save money by eliminating the need to transport or mail evidence to the state police lab.
The Wyoming lab will not be able to perform DNA testing, so the state crime lab will still be required for a number of tests.