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Springfield Forensics Lab Helps Solve Crimes Faster

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Photo credit: Jeremy Shreckhise, KSMU

http://ozarkspub.vo.llnwd.net/o37/KSMU/audio/mp3/springfield-forensics-lab-helps-solve-crimes-faster_17552.mp3

Missouri officials gathered Thursday in Springfield at the State Highway Patrol’s Regional Crime Lab and discussed the benefits to due process and law enforcement that the lab provides. KSMU’s Samuel Crowe took a tour of the facility and has the details.

[sound: footsteps in building]

 The news media were granted special access to the regional forensics lab, which opened in 2008 and has secured 27 jobs. Funding for the 6.8 million dollar facility was made possible because of a collaborative effort from state, city, and county officials, as well as private sectors. Greene County Commissioner Harold Bengsch:

"Thanks to the collaboration of all these entities, the Springfield Crime Lab helps us assure justice. Justice delayed is often justice denied. This now means justice is not delayed, and justice is rendered," Bengsch said.

Bill Marbaker is the Director of the Crime Lab Division for the Missouri State Highway Patrol. He said the facility provides much needed relief to a workload shared by an entire state system of crime labs. He said before, Springfield police would send their evidence to the Jefferson City crime lab, creating a backlog of evidence waiting to be analyzed.

"By increasing the capacity down here, we are now seeing the fruits of our labors. A year and a half ago, we were around a six month waiting period for toxicology samples. Two years ago we were over a year. Currently we are right around six weeks for waiting periods. And in many cases it can’t get much shorter than that because a lot of the processes just take time," he said.

The 30,000 square foot crime lab provides services in firearms, fingerprints, DNA, toxicology, drug chemistry, and trace evidence. Springfield Mayor Jim O’Neill said the facility is improving Missouri’s criminal justice system, putting the "swift" back into "swift justice."

"Sometimes I think what is forgotten is that that long wait period is unacceptable to us as a society, but it is terribly uncomfortable for the victims of crime, as they wait, and they wait, and they wait," O’Neill said.

O’Neill mentioned that with a faster processing of evidence, fewer tax dollars will be spent on housing and feeding prisoners as they await trial. For KSMU News, I’m Samuel Crowe.