New Laboratory

Our New Facility (LEED Certified , LEED Platinum)

Our new facility located in Olathe, KS is the collaboration of Johnson County Facilities, PGAV Architects, The Weitz Company and Crime Lab Design.  Project planning for the 62,500 square foot facility began in the summer of 2009 with groundbreaking in the fall of 2010.  The new laboratory officially opened and began operations in April of 2012.

Our new facility is not a single laboratory, but actually nine distinct laboratory spaces brought together in one building.  The nine different laboratory spaces (Controlled Substances, Trace Evidence, Toxicology, Biology, DNA, Latent Prints, Firearms and Tool Marks, Digital and Multimedia and Crime Scene Investigation) reflect the unique needs of each discipline.  Careful planning has resulted in spaces specifically designed to maximize efficiency and work flow while maintaining the highest levels of safety and security.

The County continued its commitment to being good stewards of County resources as well as mindful of the impact on our environment by devoting significant resources to the construction and energy usage of the building.  Effective November 2013, the laboratory became LEED  Certified, Platinum.  The U.S. Green Building Council's LEED green building program is the preeminent program for the design, construction, maintenance and operations of high-performance green buildings.  Just a few of the design features which contribute to this include:

  • Co-location with the County Communication Center allows a sharing of resources and other infrastructure
  • Stormwater management including bioswales, rain gardens, and a vegetated roof, as well as native plantings and hybrid turf grasses
  • Reduced water usage with low-flow plumbing fixtures
  • Energy use reduced by almost 50% through the use of a ground source heat exchange system, heat recovery wheel, on-demand ventilation, low-flow fume hoods with variable air volumes and automatic sash controls, and a highly insulated building envelope
  • Energy use from lighting was drastically reduced through the use of high efficiency fixtures (fluorescent and LED) and task lighting, natural lighting brought into the interior of the building through the use of skylights and solar collectors, benchtop-to-ceiling windows in the laboratory spaces, and automatic lighting control based on the amount of natural light coming into the building
  • Photovoltaic panels integrated into the roof membrane
  • The materials used in the construction included those which contained a high level of recycled content and low VOC levels, as well as FSC certified wood
  • 95% of construction waste was diverted from landfills

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2005 Needs Assessment

A 2005 needs assessment defined a long-range planning strategy for the Johnson County Sheriff's Office Criminalistics Laboratory (JCSOCL), following Johnson County's "standard practice" of planning for facility needs looking 15 years into the future and following the goals established by the JCSOCL's first "Strategic Plan Covering Years: 2006 - 2010." Those four goals were:

  • expansion of physical space
  • enhancement and expansion of forensic services
  • security of employee retention and improvement in job satisfaction
  • development of user awareness

Johnson County Projected Growth

The population of Johnson County has been steadily growing at an average rate of 2.34% (source: MARC Population reports) for the past 15 years. This trend is expected to continue for the next 15-year period, increasing the county's population from the current 505,000 (2005) to approximately 644,500 by the year 2020. With this expanding population will come additional development ranging from commercial centers to new job-producing businesses. Unfortunately, this growth will bring additional criminal activity as well, further increasing the case load anticipated by the crime lab.

Mission, KS Crime Lab Facility

From 1975 until 2012, the laboratory was located in the county's Northeast Office building in Mission, Kansas. Based on its experience designing new crime laboratories to comply with accreditation criteria formulated by the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors Laboratory Accreditation Board (ASCLD/LAB), the Consultant team found the existing Johnson County Forensic Sciences Laboratory facility to have outlived its usefulness. Challenges noted included:

  • overcrowding and inability to house more staff adequately
  • inadequate heating, ventilating, and air conditioning system
  • outmoded infrastructure (power, cabling, gases, etc.)
  • need for updated laboratory instrumentation
  • securing and maintaining laboratory accreditation by the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors (ASCLD)
  • meeting upcoming International Standards Organization (ISO) 17025 requirements
  • keeping up with case loads and growing backlogs
  • safety concerns in the existing facilities
  • retention and recruitment of needed staff
  • keeping up with crime scene field responses
  • growing evidence storage needs
  • limited expansion capability

Cost Benefits to Improving Forensic Services

The old laboratory was working at a reduced capability in a number of critical forensic disciplines. One consequence of this reduced capability was the increase in the laboratory case load backlog, resulting in a situation where some cases were prioritized based upon court schedules. Processing of selected cases for court is extremely inefficient and therefore more costly to the county. When considering the cost to the entire criminal justice community, there is a considerable cost benefit to limiting backlogs and reducing the casework turnaround time. Cases that are analyzed on time:

  • minimize court delays and costs
  • allow for more efficient investigations by the police agencies
  • reduce costs to the entire criminal justice system and can work to prevent future crime