HPD's expanded crime lab opens


POSTED: Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Honolulu Police Department's new $13.8 million full-service, state-of-the-art crime laboratory's most outstanding assets are its people, said supervisor Wayne Kimoto.

But the lab, while equipped with new, high-tech equipment, is suffering from a 25 percent shortage of personnel, with only 36 of the allotted 48 full-time permanent positions being filled. The lab also has five contract employees.

Kimoto said now that it is a full-service lab, it has been receiving requests from law enforcement all across the Pacific Basin, as well as several inquiries and requests from the military, the FBI and other federal agencies for assistance.

U.S. Sens. Daniel Inouye and Daniel Akaka attended the dedication and open house of the crime lab, as outgoing Police Chief Boisse Correa accompanied them on a tour of the new facility.

Correa, who will serve until tomorrow as chief, said he had a vision of a full-service crime lab when he took office.

“;We knew we couldn't do it alone, so we went to our champions,”; he said, pointing to the two senior senators and thanking them.

Kimoto proudly showed off the newly renovated facility, which includes DNA analysis, drug, firearms and trace evidence labs, located in the basement of the main police station on South Beretania Street.

Of the $13.8 million, $10.5 million in city capital improvement project funds paid for the building renovation. An additional $3.3 million in congressional earmarked grants went to purchase equipment and pay for personnel.

Kimoto said the new forensics lab has the capability to perform more efficient analyses.

“;We're able to do more with less,”; he said. What required a large DNA sample in the past now takes DNA that fits on a pinhead, he said.

The expanded space allows new, larger equipment to be housed. Also, the new lab can accommodate electrical equipment for which the old space was inadequate, he said.

The new drug lab is “;nice and roomy,”; said one criminologist, who does drug analysis. “;We have more counter space. We used to have things on boxes on the floor.”;

Kimoto said the crime lab has come a long way since the modest, six-person lab at the old Sears building on Beretania Street when DNA analysis was still a thing of the future.

The difference is like “;night and day,”; he said. “;The technology was nothing like this.”;

Scores of HPD officers and employees also toured the lab as well as officials and other members of the public.

Akaka said the new lab opens a new era for police work in the Pacific, adding, “;It'll continue to keep us safe as ever.”;