Construction begins on new Central Laboratory to help criminal cases
RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - With shovels in the dirt, Thursday marked the start of construction at a 25-acre site off Route 301 in Mechanicsville.
For the last 25 years, the Virginia Department of Forensic Science and Office of the Chief Medical Examiner have shared the same building in downtown Richmond. In that time, the number of people working there nearly doubled.
“That increase involves increases in investigations that we need to do, but also it enhanced services,” said Dr. William Gormley, Chief Medical Examiner.
The new facility is more than twice the size, boasting more than 281,000 square feet of space with the ability to expand. The work to get to this point started in 2012.
“As we worked through the needs of both our department and the office of the chief medical examiner, as well as the limitations associated with our current location, the project has now become a replacement of the entire facility,” said Dr. David Barron, Deputy Director of the Department of Forensic Science.
Once done, the state-of-the-art facility will help analyze controlled substances, firearms and forensic biology like DNA.
Hanover County Sheriff Colonel David Hines says it’s a win-win.
“It’s also a great advantage of having everything together. You have your laboratory together with your medical examiner’s office. I just think it’s great for the employees, I think it’s great for the commonwealth,” said Col. David Hines, Hanover County Sheriff.
The forensic work also includes rape kits. In 2015, the Department of Forensic Science reported 2902 untested kits in Virginia. That backlog is now clear.
“This facility will put more bad guys behind bars while making sure that the innocent are fully protected,” said Sec. Bob Mosier, Virginia Public Safety and Homeland Security.
The construction cost for the new lab is about $190 million and should be done by early 2026.
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