With shows such as Bones and CSI running rampant, audiences can often reach misconceptions on the perception of forensic science and the means and tools with which it reaches its ends. As a result, many labs opened their doors for the National Forensic Science Week, in the hopes of disproving some of these conclusions drawn based in fiction. Among the labs to participate was the Utah State Crime Lab at the Calvin Rampton Complex, according to an article recently completed by Deseret News.
The Utah State Crime Lab is unique, in that it is the only full service and accredited crime lab in the state of Utah, according to Jay Henry, director of the Utah Bureau of Forensic Services Laboratory System. As a result, they see a bulk of the forensic cases that pass through the state, certainly far more than the scientists on CSI seem to work through. The lab has seventy employees, forty of whom are forensic scientists, and thirty serve as support and administration staff. These employees are kept busy, as various cases pass through their doors—processing evidence through the use of sexual assault kits, DNA, trace evidence, latent fingerprints and firearms. The lab sees over four thousand cases per year, in a variety of crimes, such as drugs, shootings, rape and homicide.
Specifically, the number of DNA cases from 2008 to 2012 has doubled. While pervious methods did not allow for forensic scientists to proceed working on cases that didn’t afford biological fluids, new tools and techniques allow the scientists to press forward, resulting in more evidence, better databases and an increased caseload.
As a direct result of the increase in work, plans for the construction of a second lab have been started. This new lab would be a state of the art facility, built specifically for the duties and demands of forensic scientists. The current building is merely an adaptation, which has motivated the administration to seek a specialized building for their needs. The department plans to ask Legislation for thirty nine million dollars to build the building; land will not need to be purchased, as the lab already owns the land next to their current locale.