Arkansas will open a crime lab on Arkansas Highway 264 in Lowell next year to reduce the backlog of cases at the Arkansas State Crime Lab in Little Rock, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said.
On Friday (July 27), the governor announced plans for the 10,000-square-foot crime lab in a press conference at the 25-acre Lowell site. The lab, which will be used to analyze evidence in criminal cases, will share space with the new headquarters for Arkansas State Police Troop L at 1120 W. Monroe Ave. (Highway 264). The governor, from his discretionary fund, has allocated $2.76 million to build the lab, which is set to open in March 2019.
“Having a footprint in an area where we get 40% of our drug and toxicology cases will benefit all counties in the state,” said Kermit Channell, director of the Arkansas State Crime Lab. “We will get our results back to law enforcement more quickly. Once we are in operation in Lowell, we will eliminate the current bottleneck of cases at the Little Rock lab, which will relieve pressure all over the state.”
Now, law enforcement officers in Northwest Arkansas must travel to Little Rock to deliver and retrieve evidence, and crime lab staff must travel to the area to testify in cases. Not only will the Lowell lab increase the speed at which law enforcement agencies receive results for their cases, it also will allow the Little Rock lab to focus on homicide cases, Hutchinson said.
“Because of Governor Hutchinson’s experience as a federal prosecutor and administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration, he understands that the state’s growing caseload made this expansion critical to our operation and has been proactive in making it happen,” Channell said.
In 2004, the state opened a satellite office at the University of Arkansas Community College in Hope. There, staff examine evidence in cases involving controlled substance violations.
In 2011, the state purchased the 25-acre site on which the new Troop L headquarters is being built. The $14 million, 46,035-square-foot facility in Lowell will replace the existing facility at 900 S. 48th St. in Springdale. Turn Key Construction Management of Fort Smith is the general contractor.