Crime lab change to speed police work

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It may take Wheat Ridge police less time to solve crimes soon, now that the city has agreed to partner with other Jefferson County agencies to form a regional crime lab.

Wheat Ridge City Council approved a resolution July 22 that will allow the city to pay into the creation of the Jefferson County Regional Crime Laboratory — one where forensic evidence taken from crime scenes across the county will be analyzed and processed.

Right now, Wheat Ridge police sends its forensic evidence to a state crime lab, where analysis turnaround times can take several months.

Wheat Ridge police Chief Dan Brennan believes a regional crime lab will allow his detectives to solve cases in a timelier manner.

“We think our citizens will be getting a greater bang for their buck by going through this regional lab,” Brennan said after the council meeting. “We think we can have a quicker turn around and be able to analyze more evidence, solve crimes sooner, and be more effective.”

Wheat Ridge police, like most departments across the state, submit case evidence related to DNA, firearms and tool markings — where tools are used in property crimes cases — to the Colorado Bureau of Investigations for processing. But the cases there are prioritized, often resulting in delays in getting back analysis for investigations that may not always make headlines.

Beginning next year, Wheat Ridge will join Arvada, Golden and Lakewood, as well as Jefferson County, to form a Golden-based countywide crime lab, which Brennan believes will alleviate some of the state’s workload.

The council voted unanimously to approve funding for Wheat Ridge’s part in the intergovernmental agreement, which is expected to be about $31,280 a year for the first two years, beginning in 2014.

The money will come from the city’s general fund.

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