Editor’s note: Mayor Patrice Douglas writes an occasional column for the Edmond/State section. Thirty years ago, criminal cases did not have DNA evidence. You never saw it on Perry Mason. Ballistic evidence and fingerprinting were state-of-the-art, and hair evidence was cutting-edge. Not anymore. Science has changed the world of criminology, and has changed the way we teach forensics. Now, Edmond is on the cutting edge. We are known nationwide as a hub for forensic science. Accidental or intentional? Very intentional. And like a complicated crime scene, the puzzle has to be put in place one piece at a time. As the first element, we looked at what resources Edmond held. The University of Central Oklahoma was Oklahoma’s top university in the degree field of forensic science. Under the dynamic leadership of university President Roger Webb, we knew a partnership was possible. Next was the collaboration between the city of Edmond, the state of Oklahoma, local and state law enforcement, and the federal government to fund the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation laboratory in Edmond. With the redevelopment of this land, located very intentionally across the street from UCO, the 86,000-square foot OSBI lab became the catalyst for the next piece of the crime-solving puzzle: the Forensic Science Institute. Front and center, next to the main entrance of UCO’s campus, the new 30,000-square foot Forensic Science Institute is home to some of the brightest minds in forensics. Led by Dwight Adams, formerly of the FBI laboratory in Quantico, Va., experts are brought to the institute to research cutting-edge methods and technology, and to teach forensic science. The synergy of the two is apparent. The OSBI laboratory holds the technology for analysis of crime scenes, blood, ballistics, and much more. Across the street, at the institute, they can analyze digital evidence of cyber crimes, in a state-of-the-art cyber crime lab funded in part by AT&T. The institute also provides the education, and the bright minds who are interested in the field. With these two pieces in place, the Edmond Economic Development Authority can actively recruit to Edmond businesses that support the growing industry of forensic science. These will be high-paying jobs that require an educated population — and Edmond’s population already sits at more than twice the state average when it comes to college degrees. Jobs in technical investigation, forensic nursing and accounting and criminology are on the rise; estimates say these jobs will increase by 19 percent by 2012. Additionally, pairing the Edmond Police Department with the institute allows for more and better training of our police officers. These two groups are working together to benefit our Edmond citizens. What’s the next step? The Oklahoma Medical Examiner’s office. Edmond would be a perfect location for this new state facility. With the other pieces of the forensic niche in place, it is a good fit. The Oklahoma Legislature is expected to make a decision by the end of the legislative session in May. Legislators recognize Edmond has the education base and the technology in place to provide needed assistance to the medical examiner’s office. In a time of budget crisis, the forensic science synergy could allow for a savings both in time and state resources. CSI: Edmond? It’s here, and it’s growing.