Attorney General Lockyer Hosts Grand Opening of New State DNA Lab in Richmond
New Lab Is Twice As Large and Adds Missing Persons Unit
(RICHMOND) – Attorney General Bill Lockyer today hosted a grand opening ceremony for the new California Department of Justice (DOJ) Richmond DNA Laboratory that will serve law enforcement agencies throughout California.
The new $18 million, 68,000 square-foot DNA lab will use the latest in scientific and robotics technology as well as employ 141 scientists and staff. The lab will house the Cal DNA data bank, the California Cold Hit and the Missing Persons DNA programs. (See attached fact sheet for more information.)
"DNA science is one of the most important law enforcement tools we have to solve crimes and protect the innocent," Lockyer said. "The improvements we've made to the state's DNA lab over the last three years have helped law enforcement identify suspects in dozens of crimes that were once thought un-solvable. The new lab will allow us to keep pace with the latest technological innovations in the field and ensure that DNA evidence brings justice to victims of crime."
The Department of Justice DNA lab has served California since 1989, beginning as a satellite of the Lawrence Berkeley Labs with a staff of 2. When the program moved to its Berkeley site in 1992, the DNA program had grown to 15 employees, but over the last three years the lab expanded greatly to its current staffing level of 141 employees.
The three DNA programs housed at the lab have greatly increased the ability of law enforcement to solve crimes and identify missing persons. The California Cold Hit Program is a statewide project that is helping law enforcement identify suspects in both old and recent sexual assault cases through DNA evidence analysis. The Cal DNA data bank helps solve crimes by comparing evidence from crime scenes against the DNA profiles of approximately 200,000 criminals previously convicted of a qualifying offense. And the new Missing Persons DNA Program will use DNA analysis and data matching to determine the identity of missing persons.
A total of 89 suspects have been identified by the DOJ DNA data bank since it was established in 1994. 68 of these "cold hits" have been made since January 1, 2001. In total, the data bank has aided in 116 investigations.
In addition to Lockyer, other participants at today's grand opening included: Assemblywoman Carole Migden; Jan Bashinski, Chief, DOJ Bureau of Forensic Services; Tehama County Sheriff Clay Parker; Michael Levy, Chief Deputy Director of Governor's Office of Criminal Justice Planning; Tracy Bryan, California Coalition Against Sexual Assault; and, Kim Swartz, Amber Foundation.