Yakima Co. crime lab could open by end of 2022, commissioners say

YAKIMA COUNTY, Wash. — Yakima County commissioners believe with them contributing $2.8 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds and individual cities pitching in, the county could have its own crime lab by the end of the year.

Yakima County Commissioner LaDon Linde said he voted to put ARPA funds toward establishing a regional crime intelligence center because it has the potential to speed up investigations and help make the community safer.

“Swift justice is better justice for all concerned,” Linde said. “We can help solve some of these problems more quickly, put the offenders behind bars and help start to put people more at ease.”

READ: Yakima Co. Commissioners approve $2.8 million deal to fund regional crime lab

The proposed regional crime intelligence center would have crime analysts with access to mapping software that would allow them to track crime in real time and connect the dots for incidents across the county.

The center would also have forensic technicians with access to high-tech programs used to get into computers and phones, a rapid DNA testing machine and firearms ballistics testing.

Linde said that would mean investigators waiting hours or a couple days on answers instead of having to wait months or over a year for the Washington State Patrol crime labs to process their evidence.

Not only would that help detectives solve cases faster, Linde said, but it might be able to exonerate suspects who didn’t commit the crime they may have been accused of.

Linde said the ARPA funds, plus individual cities’ contributions, should be enough to purchase the necessary equipment and fund staff positions at the center for the next three years.

According to Linde, work will start immediately to get the regional crime intelligence center up and running at the sheriff’s office substation at 715 Fountain Blvd. in Zillah.

Linde said the building will be used in the interim while the parties involved in the center’s creation decide where its permanent home should be located.

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