Tulsa's police department say it needs some forensics funding or it could lose its lab altogether.
The April 5th bond issue calls for a million dollars to expand the police lab so that it can be accredited, something it must have to remain open.
News on 6 crime reporter Lori Fullbright says Tulsaâ€™s police lab is on the first floor of the police department's main building downtown, tucked behind a non-descript door.
It's about 7,000 square feet even though Department of Justice guidelines say a lab with this work-load should be more three times as big. TPD lab director Mark Boese: "I refer to it as my submarine. There's no windows and poor ventilation and we're elbow to elbow. If we walk down the hall we have to stop and wait for the other analyst to pass and we've converted closets to offices and work spaces for analysts."
The lab must be accredited by July of 2005 or the scientists will no longer be allowed to do analysis and testify in court. Getting an expanded facility would help with accreditation and get them ready for an even tougher accreditation coming up in five years.
If the lab loses its accreditation, all the cases would be sent to the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation lab and police officers would have to wait months and months for their results. Right now, even though there's a backlog at the Tulsa lab, if a hot case comes in, it can be moved to the top of the list and get done within days or hours.
The number of items examined by analysts went from 20,000 in 2003 to more than 41,000 in 2004. "Due to the popularity of shows like CSI, juries want more evidence and expect forensic scientists to testify on the stand and police are more aware of all we can do and are utilizing it."
The lab has state-of-the art equipment and even money to hire more people, but there's no place to put them.
The News on 6 and the Tulsa World recently conducted an Oklahoma Poll to see what people think of the upcoming bond election. When it comes to proposition 4, which is the expansion of the police lab and property room, 65 percent said they were in favor of it. 24 percent said they were against the proposition while 10 percent were still undecided.
To look over the proposed bond issue, visit the city of Tulsa's web site at www.cityoftulsa.org