Impact of a New Forensic Science Center/Forensic Laboratory

Solve and Prevent Rape with Additional DNA Analysis Capacity

The Henderson lab will become the second in Southern Nevada to conduct DNA evidence analysis.

Provide Advanced DUI Alcohol/Drug Forensic Lab Analysis, Timely Results

Many drivers suspected of DUI/alcohol have high levels of prescription and illicit drugs in their blood.
Photo: Justin Yurkan, 2014, LVRJ.

Fight Drug Crime

Drug use, abuse, and the related crimes are at epidemic proportions in southern Nevada. Abuse of prescription drugs and driving causes many deaths.
Photo: DEA 2015 National Drug Threat Assessment Summary

Enhance Homeland Security

Local civilian crime scene personnel (CSIs) and lab forensic scientists are usually the primary persons to process crime scenes and conduct lab analysis for crimes with federal jurisdiction such as bank robberies, bombings, etc.
Photo collage, multiple online images

Reduce Our Crime Costs

The tangible Costs of Crime in Clark County were nearly $203 million for larceny-theft, vehicle theft and burglary alone in 2013.

Reduce NV's National Crime Rankings

#1 (worst) in Robbery, #2 Violent Crime, #3 Burglary, #4 Aggravated Assault, #4 Vehicle Theft, #7 Rape, #9 Murder
(FBI 2015 Uniform Crime Report)

Educational Opportunities

A partnership with a local college/university will provide unique opportunities for future forensic science practitioners.

Scientist Positions

New Forensic Science Center will provide space/support for a minimum of 38 additional scientific positions/jobs.

Forensic labs hold the keys to solving and preventing crimes, exonerating innocent persons, and saving lives.

Increased forensic evidence analysis capability and capacity is a essential to make our communities safer through the application of forensic science. Not enough is changing within local government agencies to significantly decrease those odds and there simply aren't funds available to build a new laboratory. That’s why a small group of concerned and informed citizens formed NevadaCSI. Now we are asking for your help. A second laboratory will help solve crime, prevent crime, and save lives.

The information provided in this website will serve as an explanation and justification for the need to significantly increase the use of forensic science in the fight against crime and, with that increase, the related improvements in our Criminal Justice System.

Backlogged Rape Kits and DNA Evidence Related to Other Crimes

The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) lab conducts DNA analysis, however, their capacity is critically limited. As a direct result, thousands of untested rape kits sit on the shelves (6,300 at the end of 2015). In addition to rape kit backlogs, there are thousands of other crimes that are committed annually, that can also be solved—better yet prevented—through DNA analysis.

Henderson’s small forensic lab does not have DNA analysis capability, nor the space to add it.

Significantly increased DNA evidence analysis capacity is a critical need for southern Nevada. LVMPD is receiving grant funds to send many rape kits to out-of-state labs. This will make a dent, but in many cases it comes too late. It also is late in preventing many crimes that would not have occurred if not for the backlogs. We must increase DNA analysis capacity throughout southern Nevada, so we can solve crimes and be proactive in preventing these crimes.

DUI Evidence Analysis Backlogs and Limited Lab Capabilities Are Killing Us

If blood can't be analyzed on a timely basis, drivers under the influence of alcohol and drugs remain free. Free to cause accidents. Free to wreak havoc. Free to harm others. Free to kill unsuspecting drivers, passengers, and pedestrians. Prosecutors are often driven to negotiate with DUI drivers, dealing down sentences, possibly reducing the crime type for a guilty plea, or being unable to prosecute due to lack of available evidence.

The Henderson Forensic Laboratory can turn around blood alcohol and blood drug analysis in a matter of a few weeks. That ability is extremely limited due to manpower limitations and will understandably increase in time. The only large forensic laboratory in southern Nevada has weeks, months, even year-long delays. Delays in forensic evidence analysis is an injustice to our communities.
Photo: Justin Yurkan, 2014, LVRJ,

The High Costs of Crime

Crime is devastating to victims, to our communities, and to our economy. Some pay for the rest of their lives. Some victims actually pay with their lives. Residents, visitors, businesses, neighborhoods, and entire communities pay a price for every type of crime, regardless of where it occurred.

Six of the seven Index crimes reported by the FBI including motor vehicle theft, larceny-theft, burglary, aggravated assault, robbery, and rape caused tangible costs of $34,921,698 in Henderson in 2013. For all of Clark County, those tangible costs were over $873 million. Tangible and intangible totals were estimated at approximately $1.57 billion. Adding the crime of murder adds $579 million in tangible costs, and nearly double that in intangible cost estimates.

Armed with a better understanding of the actual costs of crime, and by combining our efforts in many ways—including increasing forensic evidence analysis capability and capacity—we can solve crimes, prevent crime, and save lives... and save millions of dollars.

Photo source: DEA 2015 National Drug Threat Assessment Summary

Drug Analysis Backlogs

Improper or illegal use of controlled substances and illicit drugs present serious problems within all communities. Law enforcement is in a continual fight against illegal drug manufacturing, possession, sale, and use. Crimes committed due to drug use and abuse range from burglary, to robbery, and murder. Per the CDC, drug poisoning/overdose resulted in 545 deaths in Nevada in 2014.

Large quantities of drug evidence are collected and submitted to forensic crime laboratories. New designer drugs emerge regularly, requiring crime laboratories to develop new analytical techniques and spend more time on analysis. Both situations add to the substantial evidence analysis backlogs. And in many cases, timely analysis of substances is of critical importance in numerous ongoing investigations, and has a direct effect on successes in drug "buys" and officer safety in certain situations.

Source, 2014 drug related deaths:

Crime Never Gives Us A Break

The FBI warns that the statistics, particularly when presented as a "Crime Clock" as depicted here: "...should not be taken to imply regularity in the commission of crime". That is a fair statement. Unfortunately, it is only partially correct. The numbers indicated here, as explained in the "Crime Statistics" page, only represent a portion of the crimes that actually occurred. According to the Department of Justice "Criminal Victimization, 2014" report, only forty-six percent (46%) of violent crimes were reported to law enforcement (national average). A staggering sixty-six percent (66%) of rapes were unreported (to law enforcement) nationwide.

The intervals are based on average numbers of Index Crimes reported to law enforcement.  Source: FBI Annual Uniform Crime Report, 2015.

New Forensic Lab is Required to Support Sufficient Staff and Equipment to Reduce Crime

Note: Forensic Scientists and other forensic lab employees in Southern Nevada are "civilians". They are not Police Officers.

Law Enforcement Officers are the backbone of public safety in our communities. Significant, appropriate levels of manpower are required so that first responders/investigators can proactively and safely enforce our laws, respond to calls for service, render assistance, detain subjects, investigate crimes, recover potential evidence, arrest suspects, and exonerate the wrongfully accused.

When there is sufficient available evidence—whether it is documentary, testimonial, or physical—to solve a crime and send the case to a prosecutor; the services of a forensic laboratory may not be needed.

However, when additional evidence is required, many portions of an investigation slow.... often stop completely. Examples where laboratory analysis is required includes processing evidence and comparing fingerprints to identify a potential and often unknown suspect; analysis of a substance to determine whether it is an illegal/illicit drug; lab analysis to determine the amount of alcohol a person may have in their blood; and toxicology lab analysis to determine if a drug is in a person's blood and if so, what type and what quantity. DNA tests may confirm the identity of a particular victim or suspect, and are frequently used to develop investigative leads when no suspect information exists, or when possible subject information must be confirmed through science. This is quite often the case. DNA can connect numerous separate crimes, as will fingerprints and laboratory analysis of firearms evidence.

Solving crimes through the scientific analysis of physical evidence often means that criminals are identified and subsequently apprehended. Crimes solved are regularly the key to preventing additional crime, and lives are often saved as a result.

Multiple law enforcement agencies submit evidence to the two publicly operated forensic laboratories in Southern Nevada. Law enforcement agencies may add officers, spend more time investigating a particular case, conduct additional DUI enforcement, complete more drug buys, conduct additional interviews of subjects, and observe criminals in the act. In a large percentage of crimes however, the lack of civilian manpower in the forensic laboratory and related backlogs are the direct causes of slowing or stopping all progress in the efforts to solve a particular crime.