Archive for Wednesday, August 2, 2000

KBI opening new lab at college

Rising crime rate in Wyandotte County prompts need for additional lab

August 2, 2000

Murder is a fairly common occurrence in Wyandotte County.

So common, in fact, that later this month, the Kansas Bureau of Investigation will open a new regional crime lab in Wyandotte County.

Terry Knowles, deputy director of KBI, said this new lab arose as a direct response to the county's high crime rate.

"There's about 150 homicides committed in the state each year, and you can count on roughly 50 of those being committed in Wyandotte County," Knowles said.

These statistics are based on the last five to seven years, he added.

The new lab, slated for an Aug. 21 opening, will be located on the campus of Kansas City Kansas Community College.

This adds to the KBI crime labs already in operation in Topeka, Great Bend and Pittsburg.

"What we're trying to do is decentralize our laboratories to the extent that we provide the scientists where they are most needed," Knowles said. "For instance, instead of having those cases brought into Topeka, in my judgment it makes sense to have the scientists in the jurisdictions."

For example, Knowles said, the new lab is designed to handle DNA and firearms examinations and to receive evidence.

"Those three types of services support violent crimes, such as homicide and sexual assault," Knowles said.

The direct impact for Leavenworth County will be that officers, for instance, no longer will have to transport evidence confiscated in drug raids to Topeka. It can be taken to nearby Wyandotte County and transferred to the Topeka lab.

Leavenworth County Sheriff Herb Nye said the new lab primarily would have a minimal impact on Leavenworth County.

"It will have a greater benefit in Kansas City," Nye said.

Nye said that, at this point, it appears that drugs and chemicals his department needs to have analyzed will continue to be taken to the KBI lab in Topeka.

But he agreed that the new lab could save his officers some driving time. In addition, it will provide scientists with whom the officers can deal directly.

Knowles said the Wyandotte County lab will be in the KCKCC math and science building.

"The college gave us 3,000 square feet which we've isolated where officers can come in through a main entrance and walk directly into the lab," Knowles said. "We're part of the building, but it's secured from the rest of the college."

The employees of the new lab will include two scientists who will carry out the DNA testing, two firearms examiners and one person in the receiving department.

Knowles said the KBI expects to utilize community college students in the operation of the lab.

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