Each year, thousands of court cases throughout the state hinge on the findings of a small lab in Pocatello.
Friday forensic scientists from the Idaho State Police made their case for a new lab to the state's joint finance and appropriations committee.
"Our citizens of Idaho need to be protected and the work we do here bring these cases to adjudication," said lab manager Shannon Larson
Shannon Larson is the lab manager of the Idaho State Police Department's Eastern Idaho Forensic Lab. Each year her team of 5 scientists processes thousands of pieces of evidence for law enforcement agencies throughout the state. But it’s an old building, not an overload of cases that is causing work to slow down.
"The issues go on and on with the old plumbing in the building. But the biggest issue is there isn't enough room to do all of our casework and that leads to a back log and our customers wait for a long time on the analysis," Larson explained.
To help remedy the issues affecting the lab's efficiency, ISP welcomed members of the Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee to tour the lab and discuss the idea of improving the facility and consolidating ISP's three offices in Pocatello.
"ISP is making a request again for fiscal year 15 to have a combined facility put on the books so we can bring the plans together for it," said ISP Colonel Ralph Powell
The proposed facility would relocate the forensics lab and the investigations office closer to ISP's patrol office on S. 5th. In addition to the benefits of having all three offices together, the property is already state owned. With an estimated cost of $6 million dollars, saving as much taxpayer money as possible is important to everybody working on this project.
"We look at total cost, whether it's needed or not and what we're spending right now," said JFAC Committee Member Roy Lacey
While this plan is still in early stages and could take some time to come to fruition, the team at the lab says they look forward to continuing with the work they love.
"One of the things that we enjoy most about it is helping to solve cases, to bring justice to the citizens of Idaho," Larson concluded.
Another benefit of changing locations is they will have a more stable environment. Larson says sometimes the rumbling of the trains across the street forces them to recalibrate their sensitive equipment before running tests.