Imagine having a new 100,000 sq. ft forensic facility under construction and three months ahead of schedule, but still needing to borrow space from the County Medical Examiner. Now, picture the possibility of catching up on several years of backlog with a full staff of forensic scientists, sworn, and non-swornpersonnel. What would that be like?
The City of Phoenix Police Department will soon know first hand. Their new, $34.6 million, 104,000 sq. ft forensic facility is 50 percent complete and set to open in June 2007. The facility is planned to operate around the clock, with 140 to 150 staff working in three shifts. The new three story, “L” shaped structure will give the City of Phoenix five times its current 19,000 sq. ft located in the basement of the Police Headquarters. Laboratory space will beorganized in one wing, with office space in the other.
The new facility will house state-of-the-art laboratories with emergency showers and examination rooms, training areas, evidence and supply storage, OSHA-approved chemical storage, and space to accommodate public tours. There will be a ballistic testing and pattern determination range, as well as a forensic garage for vehicle inspection accommodating up to six vehicles. The Crime Scene Mobile Response Unit will also call the new facility home and the staff will have the benefit of a modern facility with computerized forensic databases to enhance criminal investigations and to manage the custody of evidence.
The City of Phoenix Police Department Forensic Facility provides an excellent example of how teamwork between city and police administrators can culminate in a modern facility that is within budget. Site selection at Phoenix brought city representatives and federal judges together to address numerous site issues. During planning, police administrators worked with users to meet their space needs within industry guidelines. And finally, the architect, engineers, laboratory planners, and contractors worked hand-in-hand to plan a facility that is both cost effective and delivers cutting edge technology. The team included Durrant, Harley Ellis Devereaux, Crime Lab Design, and Gilbane.
If you are considering planning or renovating your forensic facility, we hope this case study will offer you lessons learned and serve as an example of the type of outcome that is needed to meet present and future needs. In this article, we give you a glimpse into Phoenix’s unique facility. Several aspects of the 3,000 square foot Forensic Laboratory are highlighted and may help inform your agency if faced with similar issues.
Inside the Forensic Laboratory
The primary goal for the City of Phoenix’s Forensic Laboratory was creating an environment of flexibility within every aspect of the space and maximizing future adaptability for the users. The design allows the director to not only rearrange the current facility, but readapt it for a different use in the future. By designing the lab while planning for future needs, the lab director achieves the most out of his or her space. It also provides the director with the freedom to reconfigure the lab at minimal or no cost. Part of the budget that previously may have been needed to rearrange space is now available to keep current with emerging technologies. Purchasing new equipment brings to light the importance of moveable casework systems and the benefits it adds to the future use ofthe laboratory environment.