Projected to revolutionize the way the region does forensic analysis

Auburn, Calif. – Today, the Placer County Board of Supervisors took a monumental step forward towards making the Placer County District Attorney’s Office forensic crime laboratory project a reality, by voting to officially move the project in to its first phase of planning.

The board item has been a team effort of the Placer County District Attorney’s Office, the Sheriff’s Office, the Placer County Executive Office, Sacramento State and more.


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“This is an incredible partnership across the county reaffirming Placer County’s unwavering commitment to solving problems,” said Placer County District Attorney Morgan Gire. “Currently, forensic testing is beholden to the state’s priorities, timelines, and limitations. Often times, justice is on hold.”

“This forensic crime lab will not only address this issue for our county, but for the region as well – positioning Placer County, once again, as a leader through collaboration and innovation in criminal justice. We believe this project will be a flagship program for our region, state and the nation.”

Morgan Gire, Placer DA

Leader on public safety

“Our county serves as a leader on public safety and criminal justice issues,” said Placer County Sheriff Wayne Woo. “With that said, we are experiencing a gap in service while waiting for the state to return forensic evidence results. The statewide backlog delays investigations and prolongs the criminal justice process. This innovative project will be critical to fill this service gap and will be a game changer for the region.”
The board took a number of actions surrounding the project, including entering into an agreement with the California State University Board of Trustees to move forward into the preconstruction phase of the project. This phase includes creating a strategic plan for the lab, creating a design, securing permits, and more.

Partnerships

On Jan. 31, the CSU Board of Trustees approved plans for The Sacramento State Placer Center, which will harness community partnerships to build the campus, much like the innovative partnership model for the regional forensic lab. Other campus offerings will include a conference center, an economics program, performing arts building, libraries and more.

The forensic lab is anticipated to be approximately 30,000 square feet spread across two floors, and include dedicated University space for academic, administrative, and other associated functions. The lab will provide forensic students hands-on experience and training opportunities through the university’s criminal justice program, while also being a key part of the solution to local criminal justice forensic needs. The lab will also be designed to serve counties around the region, similar to the model used for the county’s coroner facility.

Forensic evidence

Forensic evidence is often critical in criminal cases. Evidence can range from blood tests for the presence of drugs and/or alcohol for DUIs, to DNA testing on cases ranging from sexual assault to murder. It is also critical in the consideration and review of cold cases. Forensic evidence can also establish a person’s innocence, as well as exonerate potential suspects during investigations.

Currently, the District Attorney’s Office contracts with the California Department of Justice to analyze all their forensic evidence. DOJ’s processing time can range from nine to 12 months or more.

Successful prosecutions depend on the timely return of forensic evidence results. Up to year-long time delays can prohibit the DA’s Office from filing criminal charges in a timely manner and result in numerous court continuances before a case can move forward. Additionally, the state’s backlog in DNA testing has also resulted in considerable delays in criminal case filing. This backlog prevents or delays justice for both victims as well as the accused.

The board allocated $2.5 million to move forward with this historic project in partnership with the CSU System.

In 2015, the creation of a forensic crime laboratory was identified as a top priority in the Placer County Criminal Justice Master Plan. Today’s vote will move Placer County toward achieving this goal.

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