On television crime shows, forensic science labs might seem to be around every corner.
In reality that’s not the case.
But at the close of governor Gretchen Whitmer’s Forensic Science Recognition Week it seems fitting to highlight a scientific gem in our own back yard.
In fact, it might be a surprise for some that a Michigan State Police Forensic Lab operates right here in the Upper Peninsula.
Among other things, the lab helps to analyze data and DNA left at crime scenes.
Laboratory Manager Zachary Blaksmith said it’s important for the public to know and understand what the lab does.
“It’s important for the people in our community to know that they have a service that’s going to be provided,” said Laboratory Manager Zachary Blaksmith. “Forensic Science is expensive and in specialized service that not all agencies can have access to and at the state police we have opened it up to all departments within our state to be able to submit evidence and receive timely testing.”
Prior to the MSP taking over its operations, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources ran the lab.
It was shut down when the DNR left the building.
The MSP received funding to take over the facility, and it’s a good thing too.
The workload at the lab has increased every year since 2008.
“For MSP and our laboratory system, we are seeing a significant increase in work. Our numbers, since 2009, have double since coming into the laboratory. A lot of the case work coming in is drug related,” Blaksmith said. “So 70% of the casework that comes into the laboratory is related to drug analysis. There’s a lot of nexus around drugs and that’s a lot of what we, as a laboratory, are supporting and the crimes we are seeing in the community.”
So remember, when it comes time to finding an assailant of a crime, there are officers on the street and hard working scientists behind the scenes.