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Crime and Courts

KBI Opening New $55M Topeka Crime Lab

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The Kansas Bureau of Investigation is scheduled to open a new $55 million crime laboratory, replacing a crowded, outdated facility.

KBI Director Kirk Thompson said the previous Topeka space didn't meet accreditation standards.

"It had no space for our scientists to work individually," Thompson said. "They had to wait for instruments; they had to wait for space. What this facility will do is let us be much more efficient in how we move, how we do our work, how we store evidence and how we process all of our evidence."

When the new lab opens next month on the campus of Washburn University, it will replace one located in the basement of a converted school building in central Topeka, The Lawrence Journal-World reported.

T.L. Price, assistant lab director who served as project manager during construction of the new lab, on Wednesday led a tour of the new facility for members of the Legislature's Joint Committee on State Building Construction, which has overseen the project since it was authorized in the state's 2013 budget.

Price said when that facility opened in the 1980s, it employed only 19 investigators. The lab currently has more than 60 employees, and when the new lab opens the KBI will be authorized to add 12 more positions.

"I think the state will be able to get its money's worth now from our employees," said committee member Sen. Marci Francisco, D-Lawrence. "We've needed a lot of work done from KBI labs and have not given them the space to get that done."