October 1, 2014

Sheriff’s office dedicates new $30 million crime lab

Bethany Stone, forensic scientist II for the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office, demonstrates how bodily fluids are collected from a T-shirt for DNA evidence. Staff photo by Mark Taylor

Mark Taylor
mtaylor@gardnernews.com
Construction work on the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office’s new Criminalistics Laboratory is completed and the facility is expected to be operational by the end of the month.
The sheriff’s office held a dedication ceremony and open house on March 2 for the $30.2 million facility that is being paid for with a quarter-cent sales tax approved by voters in 2009.
The 62,500 square foot facility located at 119th Street and Ridgeview Road in Olathe features nine specialized laboratories and replaces a 16,000 square foot facility in Mission that was built in 1974.
“Forensic science is the future of law enforcement and with this facility we not only will continue to keep our community safe through the latest technology and expertise but also continue to be the national model for forensic sciences,” said Sheriff Frank Denning.
The state-of-the-art facility allows space for additional technology sheriff’s officials hope will help ease a backlog of 1,000 forensics cases for the sheriff’s office and 26 police and fire departments the crime lab serves.
The nine labs include specialized spaces for biological, DNA, controlled substance, digital and multi-media, firearms and tool marks, impressions, latent prints and trace evidence investigations.
Each of the labs features individualized environments for air pressure, air flow, temperature, noise control, vibration tolerance and lighting.
The individualized environments will also help prevent evidence from becoming compromised.
“There is no possibility of cross-contamination,” said Gary Howell, director of the crime lab.
The lab also features a mock crime scene room featuring a laser scanner that is capable of creating digital 3-D images of crime scenes.
Tom Erickson, public information officer for the sheriff’s office, said the new facility is expected to be Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified by the United States Green Building Council.
LEED certification is awarded to buildings for environmental design, construction and sustainability.

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