Springfield crime lab expected to be complete next month

Saturday, October 18, 2008 | 7:17 p.m. CDT

SPRINGFIELD — Structural issues have delayed completion of a crime lab slated to serve Greene County and several other areas in southwest Missouri.

The $6.2 million lab is now expected to be done by Nov. 18 and will likely begin processing evidence in January.

Flintco Project Manager Dave Mann said the building, which dates back to the 1920s, had been pieced together with different construction techniques over the years and needed work to meet new structural standards.

"We've added some structural integrity to the building that's more in congruence with today's standards," he said.

Mann said all major tasks have been completed and the only thing left is to add finishing touches such as light fixtures.

After construction is complete, the city will turn the building over to the Missouri Highway Patrol.

Mike Baker, criminalist supervisor with the patrol, said the agency will begin moving its equipment as soon as possible. All of the technology must be certified before the lab can start operating, which will likely be after the first of the year.

Baker said the state-of-the-art lab will have 21 employees to process criminal cases, which is almost double the patrol's previous manpower at the lab.

Cases involving DNA that used to take six months to a year to complete will likely take about three months, he said.

"That will be great for our court systems, too, so they don't have to wait on us," Baker said.

The lab, which will serve several counties in southwest Missouri, also will help reduce the number of backlogged cases at the crime lab in Jefferson City.

"We're putting this lab in Springfield, but it's going to benefit the entire state of Missouri," Baker said.

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