Weld County, the only county in the state to be debt-free took the first steps to achieving another first in the state with a groundbreaking ceremony for a new regional crime lab on Wednesday.
The lab, which will be located of U.S. 257 near the Pepsi distribution center will consolidate many of the services currently being performed at multiple locations throughout the county.
The $4 million facility is the result of a joint effort between local entities from Larimer and Weld County and will serve the two county’s sheriff’s offices as well as the cities of Loveland, Greeley and Fort Collins police departments.
The regional crime lab which is the only one of its kind in the entire state and one of only a handful in the entire country, has already received acknowledgement from the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the largest law enforcement organization in the world, for collaboration among the various agencies.
Weld County Sheriff John Cooke said other jurisdictions have expressed interest in participating with the other local entities to utilize the lab’s services.
“Our ultimate goal is to have it service all of Northeastern Colorado, we are currently working with law enforcement in Morgan County and Longmont is interested as well. The more we get in the more it helps reduce our costs and allows for expansion.”
Cooke said the project has been a dream of his for over nine years and he is excited about it coming to fruition.
“Originally I wanted it to take place in my first term as sheriff, then I began to say I want it to happen in my lifetime. I am glad that it is finally becoming a reality,” Cooke said.
He went on to say the real benefit would be for Weld residents who are victims of crimes.
“Currently we have to send DNA and other evidence to CBI for testing. They are backlogged because they get evidence from all over the state. Typically there is a backlog of six to seven months, but with this new lab the time frame will be about a month or less,” Cooke said. “When you are the victim and waiting for justice, that is a huge difference. Additionally it enables us to process cases faster which means we can go on to other cases rather than keep a case open for months on end while we are waiting for test results.”
Cooke mentioned an example where they were able to get DNA off of a rock, but it took months to get the results.
Evans Police Chief Rick Brandt echoed Cooke’s sentiments. “We frequently get calls from victims of crimes asking for updates. Currently we are often unable to given them new news because of the backlog at CBI and it is frustrating for the families. With this new lab they will be able to get swift justice.”
The lab’s construction is expected to be completed in the fall of 2013.
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