CLAYTON, MO (KPLR) - The St. Louis County Crime Lab has been open about nine months and already the people that work in the lab are making great strides. The lab cost $10 million and employees say it's worth every penny.
Brandy Likes works in the chemistry section. She said, "In the old lab we we're actually working on top of each other."
The new facility is more than 3 times as large as the old 8000 square foot space. It's crammed with the very latest in technology. Lisa Campbell is in charge of making sure the lab meets the standards required by a police lab. Campbell said, "Criminals are spending a shorter amount of time on the streets than they would have when they were waiting for their case to processed."
Workers in the D.N.A. section have new instruments that can do more. And they have more space to get their jobs done. They've dramatically increased production here, from testing three D.N.A. samples at time to now doing 16. They've also have 8 people extracting D.N.A. at one moment instead of just one.
Peggy Walsh is in charge of the D.N.A. section, "I believe in the last seven months the lieutenant told me there's been a sixty percent increase in hits." More hits mean more bad guys behind bars.
In the chemistry area where they test for drugs and investigate arson cases, more room and better equipment have given them reason to brag about the drop in the backlog of cases. Brandy Likes said, "Our backlog has gone literally gone from 800 before we moved here to one hundred drug cases pending."
And improvements in the firearms section are paying off. They've got a room filled with weapons taken from criminals. The experts who examine and test weapons and match bullets to guns used in crimes are also speeding things up. Mike Wunderlich is in charge of the firearms section, "We're able to get answers out at a quicker pace and get answers to investigators sooner than later." In just months from now the St. Louis crime lab will be the first in the area to also test for explosives.