Why a New Lab is Needed

Southern Nevada has two publicly operated forensic laboratories. The largest lab is managed by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD), in a building leased from a private owner. The LVMPD lab is overwhelmed with evidence backlogs of its own. A much smaller lab is operated by the City of Henderson. The publicly-owned Henderson facility is grossly inadequate for its current purpose, and our communities' needs.

The two labs support approximately 73% of the State's population. Clark County reported approximately 80 to 92.5 percent of the Nevada UCR crimes that are reported to the FBI for their annual Uniform Crime Report. Those numbers included 80, 81, 84, and 92.5 percent of the murders, aggravated assaults, vehicle thefts, and robberies in Nevada; respectively. Source: FBI UCR 2014

Forensic Laboratory (Crime Lab) Shortages Lead to Higher Crime Rates

A lot of the existing evidence cannot be analyzed in a timely manner, and still more evidence will never be analyzed under the current limiting conditions.

The forensic laboratory shortage in southern Nevada is a critical deficiency that must be corrected in order to:

  • Reduce--and substantially eliminate--evidence analysis backlogs
  • Solve crimes
  • Prevent crime
  • Save lives

The Las Vegas Metro Police Department Crime Lab is overwhelmed with backlogged forensic evidence, and has limitations in their evidence analysis methods and capacity. In one example, approximately 6,300 sexual assault kits that have never been subjected to forensic testing, remain in evidence vaults throughout southern Nevada.

A small, old, repurposed Henderson Forensic Lab is less than one third the size needed to adequately support the existing personnel, equipment, and evidence. Additional space to safely and adequately accommodate forensic instrumentation, equipment, and forensic scientists is needed to keep up with current criminal cases, clear backlogs, and keep our communities safe. The Henderson facility also supports Boulder City (and a few other agencies as resources allow).

The Henderson building has recurring problems with the electrical power; and with the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems required to support operations. Power and HVAC problems have caused damage to forensic instrumentation used to analyze drugs, blood alcohol, and blood drug evidence. One power problem damaged a refrigerator used to store a substance that, when warmed or introduced to the air, can become a fire and potential explosive hazard, requiring evacuation of the building. Another power problem destroyed a large battery backup system, and still another knocked out a several-hundred thousand dollar forensic instrument that was subsequently removed from service and disposed of. Equipment used to process and compare fingerprints are subject to damage; and the facility itself does not have a fire suppression system. Space does not exist for training, meeting, or break areas; and employees are relegated to eat lunch at their desks or to leave the building.

The tiny Henderson lab also suffers from evidence analysis backlogs. The lack of space to accommodate additional equipment and personnel, is a primary contributing factor.

Backlogs of evidence in southern Nevada that hasn't been analyzed means that suspects continue to roam free, lack of analysis hampers crime investigations, subjects are not identified, crimes are not solved and prevented, additional people and businesses become victims, and innocent persons are not exonerated.