This editorial appeared in The Anchorage Daily News.
There's not much debate over whether the state needs a new crime lab.
The current one, designed in the 1980s and built along Tudor Road, is shoehorned into a tiny building on a site with no room to grow. It houses almost double the number of workers it was designed to hold.
Alaska has to send evidence in DUI and drug cases Outside for analysis, because the state lab doesn't do toxicology tests. That outsourcing is so cumbersome, so about 300 cases a year go uninvestigated. The lab doesn't have the capacity to process evidence from burglaries, either – even though burglars might well be committing more serious crimes.
Alaska's new crime lab will have a lot more space on a site with room to grow, east of the Anchorage Police headquarters on Tudor Road. The city is donating the site through the Heritage Land Bank. The new lab will have modern technology for examining documents – checking for forgeries and reconstructing those that are burned or damaged. Sophisticated equipment will allow investigators to analyze trace evidence from hair, fibers, paint, glass and gunshot residue.
Gov. Palin sought money for the new lab in a bond proposal last year. But as record-breaking oil prices filled up the state treasury, lawmakers decided against asking voters to do any borrowing. Instead, legislators put up $12 million, which finished the design and will prepare the boggy site so it is ready for building this spring. But oil prices have crashed since last year, and a $1 billion-plus budget shortfall is looming. In her pending budget, Gov. Palin didn't request any money to take the final step and actually build the new crime lab.
To read the complete editorial, visit The Anchorage Daily News.