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The City Journals

Groundbreaking Event for the New Unified State Laboratory Facility for Departments of Utah

Aug 10, 2015 11:44AM ● By Bryan Scott

The current Utah lab facilities are running out of room for the demand in laboratory testing.

By Jessica Thompson

Taylorsville - On Monday, June 29 the State of Utah broke ground for the new Unified State Laboratory facility for the Utah Department of Public Safety, the Utah Department of Health and the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food. State Crime Lab director Jay Henry said, “This represents a purpose-built facility that will help each one of the departments accomplish their mission more efficiently.” 

The need for a new building was due to the current state facilities having limited space, poor ventilation for employees and lack of air control. Specifically for the crime laboratory, the old space didn’t have an area to test firearms or have a large enough room to process vehicles from crime scenes. “Many of the existing facilities are actually office buildings that were converted to laboratories. Each of our individual facilities are out of room and are in need of expansion,” said Henry. The Unified State Laboratory’s purpose is to give all three departments enough space, all under one roof. 

The construction site is at 4431 South and 2700 West in Taylorsville. This site is a part of a three-phase project to create a campus of state laboratories. The first building, built is 2009, is module 1 and is a 78,000-square-foot building constructed for the Department of Health Bureau of Microbiology, Forensic Toxicology, Chemical and Environmental Services and Laboratory Improvement. The Unified State Laboratory building currently under construction is module 2 of this project and will give the departments of Public Safety, Health and Agriculture and Food some much needed lab space. 

For the state crime laboratory, the new facilities will enable better testing in the traditional forensic science work. For example, there will be more laboratory space for lab work on ballistics, DNA testing, controlled substance testing and latent print analysis. For the Department of Agriculture there will be more space for the accepting of samples from inspectors from around the State of Utah to test food and agricultural goods. This will help ensure that Utah’s food is safe.

There will be different features added to the new building. For example, the laboratory is now designed to help with lab training. The crime lab will train law enforcement in proper collection and preservation of evidence.  Another added feature is the office of medical examiner, which will be transferred to the unified building site. They will be using the laboratory to handle death investigation, perform autopsies and provide the state with cause/manner of death investigational information. Henry said, “Having all three departments together will form a better collaboration, ensure greater efficiency and will be more cost effective. For instance, putting the crime laboratory and medical examiners into the same facility allows investigators to go to one place to get their information. “ 

Many individuals are eagerly awaiting the construction completion in the fall of 2016. Henry said, “This is an exciting time for each agency involved with the new Unified State Laboratory building. This is a one-of-a-kind facility in the Intermountain West, and we all can’t wait for the good work to start coming out of the new facility.”