- Associated Press - Tuesday, November 1, 2016

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Scientists at the Nebraska State Patrol Crime Lab said they’re already seeing improvements a year after they began working in the new building.

The lab opened Oct. 26, 2015, and is 15,000 square feet bigger than the previous facility, giving the department’s nearly 30 employees more room to work and process evidence according to the Lincoln Journal Star (https://bit.ly/2fAiIP9 ).

Patrol spokeswoman Deb Collins said the facility has made improvements to counter its existing testing backlog. But Collins said some backlogs in the biology and toxicology sections need to be addressed through staffing.

“Both sections are currently training staff,” she said. “Training is a lengthy process, with new staff expected to begin independent case work in early 2017.”

Average turnaround time in the different departments is improving as well. Collins said the average turnaround time for the controlled substances section used to be over 100 days the summer before moving into the new facility, but is now about 69 days. The biology unit has also improved, with an increased number of cases being worked on and a decreased average turnaround time.

The new lab provides scientists with technological upgrades, including a remote firing apparatus to keep forensic scientists safe when testing possibly faulty guns. There are also robots that are able to process up to 96 DNA samples at a time.

The lab provides services free to law enforcement statewide. The total cost for the building and work came to over $11 million paid for by the Lincoln Airport Authority. Patrol will reimburse the group through a 20-year lease.

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Information from: Lincoln Journal Star, https://www.journalstar.com

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