Looking for good news? Here’s some...

EVERY TIME I SIT DOWN to write the editorial these days, I have a momentary inclination to write something about the economy. It just seems like I need to acknowledge it in writing—otherwise it becomes the pink polka-dotted elephant chuckling at me from the corner of my office. Bringing up subjects that might be perceived by others as having a negative tone is not my favorite thing to do, though, so until now the economy has gone unmentioned.

But as I reviewed the content for this issue of the magazine, a recurring theme jumped out at me: It’s the economy... and it is not all bad news.

Just a couple weeks ago I had the opportunity to tour the Kansas City Police Department’s (KCPD’s) new Vehicle Processing Facility (see story on Page 24). When I first learned about this facility, I pictured a second-hand building, maybe an old mechanic’s shop, being repurposed and adapted to the needs of the crime-scene personnel. Nope. This building was designed from the ground up with the crime-scene and crime-lab people in mind.

The facility had just been turned over to the police department the day I took my tour, so the walls were pristine and the floor spotless. With its large open spaces and shiny new equipment, it had the look and feel of something out of one of those far-fetched forensics TV shows. One technician agreed with me when I said, “Most agencies would give their right arm for something like this.”

So how did they do it? Well, there were, of course, a variety of factors; but one major element that made the KCPD’s Vehicle Processing Facility everything that it could be (and more) was the economy. Construction is on sale right now. Once they had a budget to work with, the KCPD was able to get much more for their money.

Then there’s the subject of outsourcing forensic services (see story on Page 20). Public crime laboratories are struggling with reduced budgets, personnel shortages, and increasing backlogs. No, that’s not good news about the economy. But the state of the economy has opened up an area of opportunity for consultants who offer a variety of forensic services to public labs. One firm highlighted in the article in this issue, Ron Smith & Associates, Inc., has seen a 50-percent increase in business for its consulting division over the last year. Granted, this is due to the tough economy’s effects on forensic backlogs across the country. But one must also consider that this has created a niche market for individual forensic experts—experts who could potentially work from home in the evenings to help public agencies that need their assistance.

No, it is not good news. But it is not all bad news, either. And now that I have acknowledged the pink elephant in my office, maybe he will see himself out—and let a little more light into the room.

Kristi Mayo, editor
Evidence Technology Magazine

"Looking for good news? Here's some..." written by Kristi Mayo
January-February 2010 (Volume 8, Number 1)
Evidence Technology Magazine
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