A behind the scenes look at an MSP Forensic Lab

MARQUETTE — It’s located next to a cemetery in Marquette. Inside the big, tan colored building sits one of the most important resources for police officers and prosecutors in the area and in the state.

The 8th District Headquarters of the Michigan State Police is home to the Marquette Forensic Laboratory. First Lieutenant Jason Welch has spent the last 15 years in the Forensic Science Division.

He’s been the laboratory director the last five years.

“We’re responsible for the forensic services for all local, state, county and federal agencies,” said Welch. “We also do crime scene response as well.”

The department usually responds only to felony cases, such as a homicide investigation, like they did last week in K.I. Sawyer. Evidence technicians document everything on site.

They take photographs, video, and anything else that’s related to a criminal investigation.

“Our crime scene responders work long hours,” said Welch. “Many times they’re processing scenes anywhere from 5-20 hours. You’re always going to keep in your mind going back over and over again what you processed and hoping that you never missed a thing.”

When they’re finished at a crime scene, the evidence is brought back to the lab and analyzed there. Fingerprint analysis, bodily fluid identification and firearms evidence are a few things the forensic team tests at the facility.

“Trace evidence, hairs, fibers, etc.; all of those type of pieces of physical evidence of physical evidence out on a scene that you’re collecting ultimately get brought back to the laboratory and processed here,” said Welch.

The forensic lab ships and receives evidence from across the state. All eight districts work together to get things done as quickly as possible.

For Welch, he says the best thing about the job is the ability to help bring closure to families of crime victims.

“I think without a doubt that people get into this line of work because they want to help others and they want to help families,” he said.