Agency leaders, elected officials and supporters gathered in unincorporated Douglas County on Sept. 27, 2018, to celebrate completion of the new Unified Metropolitan Forensic Crime Laboratory.
The new crime lab will provide DNA analysis, chemistry, fingerprint analysis, document examination, firearms examination and other lab services for the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office, the Aurora Police Department and the District Attorney’s Office of the 18th Judicial District.
Groundbreaking for the 26,500-square-foot building was in May 2017, and construction began in September 2017.
“This is what America is about, right here: People coming together for a common goal and for a common good of the government serving its people. That’s what this is going to do,” Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock told the assembled guests. “We are going to serve the people of the 18th and anyone who comes through here who unfortunately falls victim to a crime. That’s what this facility is going to do and that’s what we should all be proud of today -- that we live in a country where we get to do that, where we can come together as partners and make a difference for everybody collectively.”
The Douglas County Board of Commissioners, Arapahoe commissioners and the City of Aurora signed an intergovernmental agreement for the lab, and it is governed by a board of directors. Lt. DuFour of the Aurora Police Department is the lab’s first director.
Staff at the current crime labs of the partner agencies will move to the new facility. Thirty-one employees will work at the lab to begin, with more coming on board as new hires are made.
“It wasn’t always easy, but at the same time, everyone understood what the mission was and what the final goal would be. It made it easy to continue to move forward with that,” Aurora Police Chief Nick Metz said during the ribbon-cutting ceremony. “We are three different agencies, but in a lot of ways we are one, and that’s an important part. There are so many areas in our country where you don’t see that kind of law enforcement cooperation or, for that matter, government cooperation. We are very fortunate here, and this is an example of how that came to be.”
Invited guests at the Sept. 27 ceremony included representatives of the partner agencies, staff of the new facility, current and former county commissioners, city council members and other local law enforcement leaders.
“This started with a group of different people, but the reality of this is that they have supported this, and we as government have continued to support this. The people who work in here will solve crimes faster, they will solve more crimes, and they will clear people faster, which is just as important,” Arapahoe County Sheriff Dave Walcher said. “And we are excited about this. Quite honestly, I’m sick and tired of crime; I want more bad people in jail and I want to solve more crime. This is going to do that. … This is an investment in public safety for our future.”
District Attorney George Brauchler agreed.
“I view this as a tool for public safety, but I have to tell you, given my job, I view this as something more: This is a tool for justice. My business, the business of prosecutors .. it is not incarcerations, it is not convictions, it is justice. Justice is predicated on the truth and knowing the best, most accurate truth in the most timely way,” Brauchler said. “And that’s what this building does. It will provide us the ability not only to hold those accountable more quickly who should be held accountable, but also the ability to clear those who have no business being brought into the system. The innocent deserved to be cleared in a timely manner, too. This will help do that.”