New Detroit crime lab proposed

There’s a general consensus that a new state-run crime lab in Detroit is needed to help the state’s other labs that were swamped with cases when the infamously inadequate Detroit police crime lab closed in 2008.

Now, a proposal to create a new lab, possibly in space shared with the city of Detroit, is being given serious consideration, according to a Senate Fiscal Agency report.

The SFA report says state funding for seven existing state police labs dealing with the extra cases is up 60 percent, to $34.5 million, in the last two years. But the case backlog continues to rise. And it’s an enormous problem.

[T]he overall caseload backlog actually has increased from 5,147 in 2007 to the current level of 12,300. Plus this figure does not include 10,500 rape evidence kits never analyzed by the Detroit Lab and the subject of a sample analysis and subsequent study by Michigan State University.

The report says existing labs can’t be expanded to house more personnel and equipment. The solution:

a new State-run lab, large enough and with enough personnel and equipment to handle area caseloads, should be created within the City of Detroit.

Current fiscal constraints on State and local finances make this a difficult goal to achieve. … [T]he most likely option is the recent action by the Detroit City Council approving the purchase and renovation of the 400,000 square-foot former MGM Grand Detroit casino building for use as the new headquarters for the Detroit Police and Fire Departments.

The proposal calls for the building also to be used to house a State crime lab run by the Michigan State Police.

The state and the city are engaged in “ongoing” negotiations to hash out the details.

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