(Springfield, IL) — April 22, 2011. Governor Pat Quinn today announced a $38.7 million grant to build a new Illinois State Police forensic laboratory in Belleville, a facility which should help the state police forensics operation to overcome problems with delays in evidence analysis.
“Ensuring public safety and creating jobs are two of my administration’s top priorities,” said Quinn. “This project helps us accomplish both by creating an important asset for law enforcement in the Metro East area, while creating 260 jobs.”
The 60,000 facility will include state-of-the-art space and equipment for crime scene science, anthropology, trace and forensic biology, and chemistry; and polygraph, latent prints, firearms, and DNA testing.
Backlogs in the state police forensics operation came under fire in a March 2009 report by Illinois Auditor General Bill Holland.
The number of cases that the state police had failed to analyze within 30 days grew from 3,426 in 2002 to 10,387 in 2007, Holland’s report said. Evidence submitted for analysis grew 10% during the period, while forensic staff levels dropped 3%.
“The auditor general’s report basically identified a lot of issues we have as far as backlogs and the turnaround times we have to process evidence,” then-State Police Superintendant Jonathon Monken said in May 2009.
“The new facility will … afford crime scene investigators space to process vehicles and other large items for evidence, as well as an examination room for a polygraph examiner,” said Illinois State Police Director Hiram Grau.
For more than two decades the Illinois State Police has leased 15,000 square feet of office space as its laboratory in Fairview Heights.
”The forensic lab to be constructed in Belleville is a situation where everyone wins,” State Senator James Clayborne (D-East St. Louis) said.
“This state-of-the-art forensic lab will fill the needs of law enforcement and prosecutors in Southern Illinois now and in the future,” said State Rep. Thomas Holbrook (D-Belleville). “This will help the state meet its obligations to our citizens.”
Let’s hope Holbrook is right. Previously, the state police forenics operation had been failing at its mission. Holland’s audit noted 46% of test results delays resulted in criminal charges going unfiled, cases being delayed, charges being dropped, or suspects being acquitted.
Construction begins late summer.