An expansion of the Missouri Highway Patrol's crime lab is a big — and much-needed — step toward crime-fighting.
We've previously lamented the backlog of the state's backlog of untested sexual assault kits. In October, we commended state and federal efforts that led to a $2 million grant to go toward testing of these kits.
We recently reported Gov. Mike Parson attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the expansion of the patrol's crime lab, which will increase DNA processing capabilities and efficiencies. The 8,000-square-foot expansion will be devoted entirely to DNA processing and house 20 full-time employees, including five new DNA analysts who are currently completing training.
Parson said this will allow the state to more efficiently process more sexual assault cases as well as other critical DNA cases.
The lab's DNA section previously operated in about a 3,000-square-foot area on different floors at the patrol's general headquarters.
The total project cost was approximately $2.7 million, including both design and construction, and took roughly a year to complete.
Fighting crime requires good work at all levels of law enforcement and courts. A weak link at any level can prevent bringing criminals to justice. That's why this crime lab expansion is so important.
Until now, the lab hasn't had the resources to do its job, particularly with testing sexual assault kits.
That means that victims who have undergone the invasive testing don't get to see justice being served. That can cause future victims to be less inclined to go through the process to bring their attackers to justice.
The expansion of the crime lab sends a clear message to victims and perpetrators that the state is doing everything it can to make sure crime doesn't pay.