$1M state grant to improve crime lab technology

Montgomery County Coroner Dr. Kent Harshbarger, left, shows  Ohio Governor Mike DeWine around the Miami Valley Regional Crime Lab, Monday May 9, 2022. The Governor visited the lab to discuss the new Ohio Crime Lab efficiency program that was developed to help eliminate-processing backlogs and increase the speed at which criminal evidence is analyzed in certified crime laboratories across the state. MARSHALL GORBY\STAFF

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Montgomery County Coroner Dr. Kent Harshbarger, left, shows Ohio Governor Mike DeWine around the Miami Valley Regional Crime Lab, Monday May 9, 2022. The Governor visited the lab to discuss the new Ohio Crime Lab efficiency program that was developed to help eliminate-processing backlogs and increase the speed at which criminal evidence is analyzed in certified crime laboratories across the state. MARSHALL GORBY\STAFF

The local crime lab dedicated to assisting law enforcement in solving criminal cases in the region received a $1 million state grant to update equipment.

The money will be put to good use, Montgomery County Coroner Dr. Kent Harshbarger said, and will be used by the Miami Valley Regional Crime Lab to update equipment, buy rapid DNA identification technology, create a new technician position, improve the hardware and software used in the lab as well as adding robotic systems where possible.

“This grant funding could not come at a better time,” Harshbarger said, noting that the crime lab helps investigate thousands of cases a year from around the region. The crime lab is responsible for doing toxicologies, testing drugs recovered by law enforcement, doing DNA analysis and other forensic work.

The crime lab does work for law enforcement in counties throughout the Miami Valley region.

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Governor Mike DeWine visited the local crime lab Monday morning and said it’s an important part of keeping the community safe.

“The crime labs across Ohio are doing more work than they’ve ever done before and this is work that is essential to the criminal justice system,” DeWine said. “When a crime lab gets behind, that simply means there’s a criminal out there who is not being caught and should have been caught and would have been caught if the crime lab was up to date.”

He said the money will ensure the Miami Valley Regional Crime Lab doesn’t get behind.

“We don’t want them to get behind,” DeWine said. “The way they stay up to date is to have the state of the art equipment, the most efficient equipment that they can have.”

The grant money is part of the $10 million Ohio Crime Lab Efficiency Program in which the state’s 14 crime laboratories will get a portion of the money to eliminate evidence processing backlogs. The governor’s office previously said the money is part of DeWine’s strategy to support the state’s justice system and secure justice for victims.

Ohio Democrats released a statement Monday morning saying the money used to help crime labs comes from the American Rescue Plan and that DeWine said he would have voted against it. DeWine said he has an obligation to take the money and spend it the best way he can to help the state.

While the local crime lab does a good job solving local crimes, DeWine also said that in doing so it is also preventing future crime.

“The best way you prevent crime, frankly, is to get a violent criminal locked up,” the governor said. “The vast majority of violent crime in this country, the vast majority of violent crime in Ohio, occurs by violent criminals who have already committed violent offenses. So catching them the first time, getting them locked up, segregating them, separating them from society is the best way to make sure that our community is safe.”

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