MADISONVILLE, Ky. (5/30/13) – On Wednesday morning, SurfKY News was able to take a tour of the new Kentucky State Police Forensic Western Laboratory Branch located on 4415 Hanson Road Madisonville, Kentucky.
It was told that, compared to the old facility, the new one is much nicer and better designed to meet the needs of all the employees. Currently there are 15 people employed at this new facility.
This process started back in December of 2008, but didn’t become in possession until November of 2012. However, it wasn’t until late January when the facility was open for taking cases. The layout of the new facility was supported the whole way and the need of certain materials and equipment was never questioned. All the employees helped with moving the old equipment into the new facility and they also had a part in how the design of the layout would be.
Lieutenant Mark Mayes, Commander of the Western Laboratory stated, “The home crew really shined. They did things I didn’t have to tell them to do. They knew what needed to be done and did it. They took care of business and I can’t say thanks enough for all the work they’ve done. They are just super people, best staff you can ever imagine here.”
This facility is not open for the community. If, for some reason, you needed to talk to someone or visit the site, you would have to set up an appointment or call ahead of time.
When you first walk in, there is a reception area and to the left is where the Evidence Receiving Room is located. This is where evidence is brought into the laboratory and signed for, there is a computer with a barcode system, and temporary storage for analyst’s who are not there. The barcode system tracks if the evidence is in the facility or has been released.
Across the hall is conference rooms where they hold meetings and keep certain records on file, general lab supplies are also stored in this room.
The north side of the facility consists of a huge storage unit for all their supplies and tanks that are used for instrumentation. In the old facility, all supplies were stored in the hallway. Down the hall are restrooms and a break room. In the back of the break room is a dedicated room for computer servers, where they keep track of all the data for all the case work that’s done. This room also has its own climate control and has its own alarm system.
Further down the hall is the Drug Chemistry Room where all the controlled substance drugs are tested such as; powders, capsules, tabs or anything that would be considered a controlled substance. Synthetic Marijuana and K2 are also tested in this facility. This is where the main equipment is. It has the ability to break down the components in an unidentified substance and tell you if there is a controlled substance in it. When no one is in this room, the door is always locked and only the analysts that work in this room, have the code to get in.
Down the hall from the Drug Chemistry Room is the Forensic Biology Room where cases range from murders and robberies to assaults. The evidence from these cases is screened for biological fluids such as blood, semen and saliva. If DNA is found, the evidence is then sent off to the Central office in Frankfort for further DNA testing.
There are currently four labs in the state of Kentucky that do Forensic Biology. All of them, including this new facility, do screenings, but only one does DNA Analysis.
Next door to the Forensic Biology Room is the Breath/Alcohol Room. This is where the Intoxilyzers are located. This facility is responsible for all of Western Kentucky, which is about 30 sites. They go to each site every 30-45 days, with the exception of Bowling Green (due to high volume) every 14-21 days. This group is responsible for servicing and repairs for the Intoxilyzers at each site. The Intoxilyzers are located in the jails and Sheriff’s Department. Every county is required to have one.
Next to the Breath/Alcohol Room is the Toxicology Room. This is where blood and alcohol are tested. Kits with blood tubes and a urine cup are provided to all the state agencies. These kits also provide preservatives in case the blood is left unattended for a longer period of time. The Multipurpose Sampler was installed not too long ago and is used to take samples of vials, and components are separated out to determine how much alcohol is in the blood.
The last room of the new facility is the Polygraph Room. John Bruner, Polygraph Examiner, gave SurfKY News a tour of the Polygraph room and showed how a Polygraph is done. In this room, there is a camera that is always recording the person from the time they get into the room until the time they leave the room. Depending on what court you go into, not all polygraphs are used. The polygraph is used more for an investigator tool. A normal polygraph test takes between 2-3 hours.
There are six laboratories all together, five regional and a central lab in Frankfort. The central office is the only office that does DNA and Trace Analysis.
Lieutenant Mayes also expressed, “This facility is fantastic. It is something long overdue.”
Photos provided by Amber Mena
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