Governor Mike Parson attended a ribbon cutting ceremony Wednesday for an expansion of the Missouri State Highway Patrol’s main crime lab, which will increase DNA processing capabilities and efficiencies.

The 8,000 square-foot expansion will be devoted entirely to DNA processing and house 20 full-time employees, including five new DNA analysts who are currently completing training.

“This crime lab expansion and the additional lab personnel will allow the Highway Patrol to process more sexual assault and other critical DNA cases more quickly and efficiently,” Governor Parson said. “Fighting crime and bringing criminals to justice takes more than law enforcement officers alone. We’re extremely appreciative of all the crime lab and other civilian personnel who help solve crimes and make Missouri safer.”

“The DNA Section is a laboratory setting with highly trained analysts and technicians, but the crime lab team never loses sight of the fact that each case they process represents an opportunity to help bring justice to an innocent victim, the people for whom we work,” Missouri Department of Public Safety Director Sandy Karsten said. “We are very fortunate to have the skilled team we have, and that they’ll now have a state of the art facility in which to do their invaluable work.”

"The Missouri State Highway Patrol appreciates the General Assembly and Governor Parson’s strong support for this project," said Missouri State Highway Patrol Superintendent Colonel Eric Olson. "Previously, the DNA Section at General Headquarters operated in about a 3,000-square-foot area on different floors of the building. The increased capacity will make the laboratory more effective and efficient in handling cases.”

The area the DNA Section vacates will be utilized by other lab disciplines, including latent fingerprints, firearms, and trace evidence, which will allow these disciplines to expand and be more efficient and effective, too.

The Highway Patrol’s main crime lab is located in the General Headquarters Annex in Jefferson City. Funding for the addition was appropriated in FY 2019.

Environetics Inc., of Kansas City, designed the space, and Cahills Construction Inc., of Rolla, served as the contractor. The total project cost was approximately $2.7 million, including both design and construction, and took roughly a year to complete.

The five additional full-time employee positions were appropriated in FY 2020. These new employees are currently trained to a level that allows them to participate in limited casework. It is expected that they will complete their full training in the next eight to ten months.

Over the next few weeks, laboratory personnel will perform a comprehensive cleaning process and environmental and performance tests on all instrumentation before moving in lab equipment and personnel. It is expected that casework will begin in the new lab area by the end of the month and reach existing capacity by early January 2021.

Wednesday's ribbon cutting event was held indoors. Face masks were required and proper social distancing was observed, according to the governor's press release.

Gov. Parson/Flickr
Gov. Parson/Flickr