Share “CSI: Oklahoma

CSI: Oklahoma
New forensics center puts state among the nation's best

By Diana Baldwin Modified: May 1, 2008 at 10:17 am •  Published: May 1, 2008

/> Previously, investigators had to borrow space at a firing ranges in Edmond or Oklahoma City to do their work.

"The range gives us capability to analyze and test weapons in-house where it is safe and controlled,” said Steve Brookman, criminalisticsadministrator. "This is a real boost for the law enforcement community.”

Where it all began
Dirt work on the site for the laboratory, offices and classrooms began Nov. 15, 2005. Talks about a new forensic science center began in 2002, but money woes and bad weather contributed to the open date being pushed back several times.

Legislators originally agreed to spend $20 million on the lab, but they learned when the bids came in that it wouldn't be enough money.

Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and skyrocketing fuel costs, pushed construction costs far more than what was projected. Legislators had to come up with an additional $6.3 million to cover the difference, which caused some delays.

The state will have to repay $26.3 million in bond money spent on the lab. People who get traffic tickets are fined an additional $5 that will go to repay the bonds used to fund the building and operate the laboratory, said Jerry Hire, OSBI special projects officer.

The rest of the cost of the center was paid with OSBI money and interest collected on the bond money during the construction phase.

The project started as a joint effort between the city of Edmond, OSBI and UCO. Edmond city officials bought 11.5 acres of land for $1.7 million in 2003. OSBI paid the city $500,000 and UCO another $250,000 to go toward the purchase. The city then deeded the OSBI 6.75 acres where the new center sits. Edmond City Manager Larry Stevens said the city spent $227,000 to clear the land.

City officials say in return for their commitment, they get a regional state-of-the-art center, new jobs and additional sales taxes.

UCO will break ground in June on a Forensic Science Institute on campus that will offer continued education workshops for law enforcement, train students and work with the OSBI. The new OSBI building has biology and chemistry training labs graduate students can use for their studies. Five students are working as interns at OSBI this semester.