Douglas County has teamed up with Arapahoe County and Aurora, Colorado to create and develop a regional crime lab that’ll be used by the two counties to fight crime. After the Douglas County Sherriff’s Office sent a sexual assault case to the state crime lab for DNA testing, a year later they still had no results. This promoted Douglas County to look for alternatives to fighting crime and put suspects behind bars quicker than the turnaround time for the state crime lab.
Arapahoe County faced similar circumstances with cases from 2015. They’ve submitted several cases last year that still haven’t seen results back, stalling cases and other investigative work. Typically, the wait for DNA analysis from the state crime lab can take four to 18 months. Colorado isn’t the only state fighting this battle, especially when it comes to sexual assault cases.
The Regional Forensics Crime Laboratory is estimated to cost roughly $13.7 million and is two years in the making. It will serve Douglas and Arapahoe Counties, including the City of Centennial who has contracts with the Arapahoe County Sherriff’s Office. Other areas may also be able to use the crime lab once built for a fee per analysis or case, giving Colorado law enforcement a chance to help reduce the backlog the state crime lab currently has on its plate.
The agreement to work together on a regional crime lab should be finalized by the end of October 2016. Groundbreaking would take place in the summer of 2017 and would be located on the northern border between Arapahoe and Douglas Counties. In August of 2016, the three groups came together to put this plan in place for a regional crime lab. They believe the overall cost of the project will be $13.7 million but once the designs are finalized, the true cost will be calculated.
Douglas County will focus on the land acquisition, along with construction costs through the use of Justice Center Sales and Use Tax. Then, once the construction is complete, Arapahoe County and Aurora will take over. Aurora will pay and install the information technology infrastructure, along with the support staff for it. Arapahoe County will provide a variety of specialized staff and equipment for the regional crime lab.