Gov. Pat Quinn helped cut the ribbon Tuesday for the new Illinois State Police crime lab in Belleville, saying it will "pay dividends for decades to come" in crime-fighting efforts.
"Our law enforcement agencies must have the best resources available to investigate crimes and arrest offenders," Quinn said. "This facility gives local authorities access to the very latest tools and technology to help them conduct investigations more efficiently and effectively while protecting the safety of the people of Illinois."
The 64,000-square-foot lab is on West Main Street, next to Lindenwood University-Belleville's campus. The $41.6 million lab will replace the existing one in Fairview Heights. The lab is where ISP scientists and crime-scene technicians will do biological testing, DNA testing, crime-scene processing, polygraph testing, firearm analysis and other technical work involving crimes from across Southern Illinois.
ISP Director Hiram Grau said the lab is what a modern crime lab "is supposed to look like. " He added: "The new forensic lab will meet the infrastructure requirements of today's highly technical scientific equipment and serve our most important clients - the victims and their families.
Rep. Jay Hoffman, D-Belleville, who pushed for the new lab, said: "This new facility will make it easier for Illinois' police officers to do their jobs. The state-of-the-art technology will also provide the most effective tools in assisting local and state investigators and ensuring public safety."
Hoffman said the lab's location next to Lindenwood will provide opportunities for internships and other cooperative efforts. He said there' s "no better place to put this facility."
Others recognized during the ceremony included Rep. Dwight Kay, R-Glen Carbon; U.S. Attorney for Southern Illinois Steve Wigginton; former state Rep. Tom Holbrook, D-Belleville; Belleville Mayor Mark Eckert; Sen. James Clayborne, D-Belleville; and St. Clair County State's Attorney Brendan Kelly.
Kelly said that, as the prosecutor, he "sees the benefits" of resources such as the crime lab. He thanked the legislators and Quinn for providing the lab and for State Police manpower to help fight crime in the region. Police from municipal and county departments -- not just State Police -- use the services of the crime lab.
Clayborne was unable to attend but, in a press release, said the lab "will give police and prosecutors better tools to advance justice and avoid improperly arresting and convicting innocent people."
For more than two decades, the Illinois State Police had leased 15,000 square feet of renovated office space as its laboratory in Fairview Heights. The rented space could no longer accommodate the agency's technological changes, casework growth and staffing needs, according to Quinn's staff.