According to officials, the new crime lab replaces an outdated, small lab that had not met the needs of current scientific advancements in terms of space and workflows.
“Investing in keeping our schools, our streets, and our communities safe has been a top priority for us, from directing more than $100 million to support crime and violence prevention statewide to providing generational increases in shared revenue to help ensure local law enforcement and first responders have the support and resources they need to do their jobs every day,” said Gov. Evers.
Kaul agreed, noting how his top priority is public safety.
“Efforts to build a new crime lab in the Milwaukee area began well before I was first sworn in as Attorney General, and I’m thrilled that we’re now able to put shovels in the ground to get this done,” said Kaul.
“My top priority is public safety, and ensuring the state crime labs have the facilities they need to keep up with scientific and technological advancements will help with the crucial work of keeping our communities safe,” Kaul added.
The current Milwaukee Crime Laboratory facility was retrofitted from a grocery store to a scientific laboratory in 1983 and an addition was built in 1992. At the time, the number of personnel was small, only 20 parking stalls were required for the scientists that worked there. As time went on, and the forensic science progressed, the need for more forensic science disciplines increased as did the need for more personnel, Wisconsin Department of Justice officials said.
Currently, the number of staff is close to 70 scientists, technicians and managers and the space has constrained and dictated the scientific capacity of the laboratory. It was identified approximately thirteen years ago that due to capacity constraints and numerous structural and other concerns associated with that facility, that a new space needed to be considered, officials noted.
Efforts to build or locate a new facility for the Milwaukee area Wisconsin State Crime Laboratory have been attempted numerous times over the past thirteen years and is now finally moving forward, authorities added.
According to officials, the Wisconsin Department of Justice Division of Forensic Science (DFS) was established as an independent division in 2019, though the Wisconsin State Crime Laboratory was originally established in 1947. DFS employs over 190 people including forensic scientists, technicians, evidence specialists, and crime scene response professionals. These dedicated professionals provide impartial forensic analysis in the following areas of science: toxicology, drug identification, biology/DNA analysis, DNA database, trace evidence analysis, firearms examination, toolmark analysis, latent print examination, footwear analysis, ten print comparison, and forensic imaging and video analysis.
DFS crime laboratories—located in Madison, Milwaukee, and Wausau—are the only full-service forensic science laboratory system in Wisconsin. DFS is not a diagnostic laboratory system; the circumstances of each case submitted to DFS are unique. The needs of the submitting agency, the type of crime and impact on public safety as well as court/trial demands are considered for each case, officials noted.
DFS provides unbiased scientific testing and analysis of evidence for every community in Wisconsin and staffs on-call Crime Scene Response Units, located at each laboratory, to assist law enforcement at major crime scenes by processing and photographing the crime scene, providing scene documentation and trajectory analysis and maintaining evidence integrity, officials added.