ANCHORAGE, AK – Another former director of the Alaska State Crime Lab has expressed his opposition to the crime lab replacement project as it has been currently proposed by the Department of Public Safety and has recommended the report released by the Alaska Policy Forum which addresses the merits of the project. George Taft is the second former crime lab director who has said the project needs to be reconsidered. Taft’s professional background includes managing the State Crime Lab in Alaska and three satellite crime labs in Texas. George Taft currently serves on the Board of the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors/Laboratory Accreditation Board.
“The [Alaska Policy Forum report] is a document that should be reviewed by all those making a decision on the funding for this project. It is a fair comprehensive document written by volunteers at no cost to the State,” wrote Taft in a letter to Governor Parnell. “There is no doubt that the current Crime Laboratory needs more space, but building a new 84,000 sq ft replacement is way over the top.”
Taft also addressed the future costs to maintain the facility. Though the price tag of the proposed lab is now over $100 million, nearly 20 percent of the new facility would be unfinished shell space. “Will Public Safety be paying utilities on this unused space for the next twenty years?” asked Taft in his letter. “With this large a building, will Public Safety have a future operating budget to cover the cost of these increased facilities?”
The Alaska Policy Forum released their report last month addressing the merits of the project which has a history reaching back to the previous administration. The report considers factors such as size, caseload, site, and design of the new crime lab, and concludes that the proposal does not fit the needs of the state and has the potential to take resources away from other important needs. Evidence submission to the lab was found to be “flat or declining,” with an overall workload the same as it was about 15 years ago.