An Outsider’s Thoughts: A Tour of Yakima Valley’s New Crime Lab!
I was lucky enough to get a tour of the new Yakima Valley Local Crime Lab located inside the Sheriff's office in Zillah, Washington. They held their ribbon cutting ceremony Thursday morning (read more about that here), and held public tours throughout the rest of the day. Like I said, I was lucky enough to go on one. How did I get access, well it's all about who you know! Actually, I just smiled and asked nicely. There was room available in an afternoon showing, and so I got in.
I wasn't able to attend the ribbon cutting ceremony, but heard that it was a great turnout with some key figures in Washington state. The picture (below) was taken during the ceremony.
I'm not going to lie, when I went for the tour, I didn't know what to expect in real life. Television shows like CSI (Crime Scene Investigation), CSI: Miami, CSI Vegas, CSI: NY, CSI: Cyber along with many other law themed shows, filled my brain expectation. Are we getting a CSI: Yakima or where the lab is actually located, a CSI: Zillah (that sounds cooler). Nope, we get a few rooms inside the Sheriff's office. At first glance, everything was pretty underwhelming. But you know what they say, "Don't judge a book by its cover!"
The crime lab (as far as I could tell) was centered around 3 rooms. One dedicated to the finer details of bullet shell analysis, one where an analyst dealt with intelligence and details about cases, and the final room, was dedicated to bullet casing and planned rapid DNA testing equipment.
They did have one microscope set up for us to look at, so we could compare bullet casings and the fire pin marks from different firearms, and how every casing is investigated, and attempted to be matched up with firearm that discharged it. The 3rd room (which I was unable to get a picture in) has a pretty big computer that was set up to quickly analyze and enhance the casings, as well as linked up to the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN).
For such a small area, I was really impressed. The ways they are using the technology to track information that can be gathered at a crime scene is mind blowing. Yes, this technology will help capture criminals, but it also has just the same potential to clear the wrongfully accused. An important point made during the tour.
I asked what the plans for the future were, when it comes to this location. I was told how they are extremely grateful for the space inside the Sheriff's office, but growth comes to all things, and that's the plan for the Yakima Valley Local Crime Lab. A bigger space to work, more crimes to solve, more help to law enforcement, and helping keep the public safe.
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