EDMOND — The state's most sophisticated forensic science crime-fighting work no longer will be done in a cramped, outdated office building in Oklahoma City, but in a state-of-the-art laboratory in Edmond.
Dedication ceremonies for the $30 million Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation Forensic Science Center will be at 2 p.m. today.
Some experts in the forensic field are calling this real-life "CSI” laboratory one of the best in the United States.
The 86,000-square-foot center, on Second Street just south of the University of Central Oklahoma, is the new home for 70 criminalists, evidence technicians and support staff members.
The state's high-tech forensic center is expected to take care of the state's crime analysis needs for the next 20 years. Charles Curtis, director of the center, said the building was constructed so it can be expanded.
"This is the first building (at OSBI) dedicated to being a laboratory,” Curtis said. "We've never had that before.”
The forensic science center moved about 14 miles north from a small office building at 2132 NE 36 in Oklahoma City.
"People in the trace (evidence unit) didn't even have room to move,” Curtis said. "They had a fourth of the room they have now.”
The latent evidence unit wasn't even in the old lab.
It was housed at OSBI headquarters at 6600 N Harvey Ave.
State officials aren't sure what is going to happen to the old building.
The new lab is spread over four floors and backs up to green lush trees and the city of Edmond's winding walking trails that runs from E.C. Hafer Park to Fink Park.
Lilac bushes line the sidewalk leading up to the modern red brick and tan stone building. Green metal benches with the seal of the state of Oklahoma are along the walkways.
Benches, furniture and shelving were mostly made by state prisoners, many whom were put behind bars because of the work that goes on in the forensic science laboratory, Curtis said.
People going to the bureau on business no longer have to stand in line, crammed in next to a law enforcement officer holding a box of bloody evidence. The new center allows law enforcement officers to have a secure area to deliver evidence. The public comes in the front of the building.
A secure and light-controlled garage is now available to analyze vehicles involved in crimes, something investigators said they never had before the new building.
An indoor firing range that allows criminalists to make distance determinations up to 56 feet is on the second floor of the laboratory.