OSBI Crime Lab Struggles To Solve Cases With Old Equipment

Tuesday, September 20th 2011, 7:45 pm
By: News 9

Adrianna Iwasinski, News 9

EDMOND, Oklahoma -- The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation's crime lab is in desperate need of new equipment. The old equipment is on its last legs. And if it isn't replaced, it could affect hundreds, if not, thousands of cases from being solved.

Inside the OSBI crime lab, they analyze hundreds and thousands of samples of evidence. Most of this is done by computers. But if the computers crash, the caseloads get backlogged.

"Well this particular instrument we use throughout all of our drug labs throughout the state," said Kevin Kremer, criminalist Supervisor at the OSBI crime lab in Edmond. "This particular instrument does the screening for us to actually allow us to identify controlled substances."

The folks in the crime lab even have names for their equipment. There is Batman, Medusa and Poseidon, Yoda, and Obi-Wan.

But like the movies they get their name from, the machines are getting a little old and outdated. For many of these crime fighting instruments, the service warranty is up.

"So once these break, we can't replace these," Kremer said.

Most of this equipment keeps running well after analysts go home, so it enables the crime lab to process hundreds of samples both day and night.

They can do up to 700 samples in a 24 hour period. And without them, analysts will have to go back to doing this all by hand.

Those in charge of the OSBI crime lab hope that doesn't happen.

"That would be a pretty big step backwards in the past," said Kremer. "We would do it if that's what we had to do to continue to get the case work out."

But Kremer said even with that, there's no money available for overtime in OSBI'S current budget.

So they've got to figure out a way to pay for either equipment or manpower.

Those in the crime lab are hoping Lawmakers will consider a one-time appropriation next time they meet. The total price tag to replace all the needed equipment is $1.7 million dollars.

Before, those instruments were paid for with federal grant money. But the OSBI says these days, that's hard to come by.