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New Illinois State Police DNA laboratory opens for business in Decatur

New Illinois State Police building
Illinois State Police

Operations have begun at the Illinois State Police (ISP) agency’s new forensic science laboratory in Decatur, which is expected to expand DNA testing capacity.

ISP Director Brendan F. Kelly said, “The new lab will further reduce backlogs and allow us to solve crimes faster and bring justice to all involved.” The lab was accredited last week, which allowed the leased facility to officially open.

The new four-story ISP Decatur Forensic Science Laboratory located along the U.S. Route 51 on the south side of Decatur will provide testing for law enforcement throughout the state. Forensic scientists at the laboratory will examine evidence collected from crime scenes and analyze biological material to identify DNA profiles from suspects.

The facility is the state’s seventh forensics lab and will also house Crime Scene Services.

According to the ISP, backlogs in testing for trace chemistry, drug chemistry, latent prints, firearms, toxicology, and footwear have all decreased by approximately 37% since 2021.

“This top-tier facility will increase capacity to significantly reduce turnaround time for DNA testing, produce rapid results, and further reduce the case backlog,” said Gov. JB Pritzker.

In June last year, the state had no pending sexual assault kits older than 180 days, which marked the first time the agency was able to comply with the 2010 law aimed at eliminating the backlog. Now, Illinois State Police say the average turn-around-time for a DNA case to be completed is 3.6 months.

The ISP laboratory system processes evidence from criminal cases in seven disciplines: drug chemistry, trace chemistry, toxicology, biology/DNA, latent prints, firearms/toolmarks, and footwear/tire tracks.

Maureen Foertsch McKinney is news editor and equity and justice beat reporter for NPR Illinois, where she has been on the staff since 2014 after Illinois Issues magazine’s merger with the station. She joined the magazine’s staff in 1998 as projects editor and became managing editor in 2003. Prior to coming to the University of Illinois Springfield, she was an education reporter and copy editor at three local newspapers, including the suburban Chicago Daily Herald, She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Eastern Illinois University and a master’s degree in English from UIS.
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