More than $30 million dollars is being invested right here in Roanoke to update and upgrade the Virginia Forensic Science Laboratory.
The facility located off of Peters Creek Road currently employees a little more than 50 scientists, technicians and forensic specialists to keep up with criminal cases in the western region of Virginia.
A new facility in Roanoke means new jobs to help handle the tens of thousands of cases this department sees every year.
The building is a crucial piece of the puzzle to any criminal case in Virginia.
"We're a support system for law enforcement and defense,” said director Kevin Patrick. “We try to provide the scientific analysis of all the evidence."
Virginia's Western Department of Forensic Science is expanding. According to Patrick, the expansion means the department can increase the amount of work it puts in which will help decrease turnaround times for the cases.
"Crime is increasing everywhere and we're getting so many of the smaller cities that are increasing in crime that haven't been there and we're taking in more evidence than the central labs where the concentration of people are up in Richmond," said Patrick.
The Western lab handles cases from 34 counties and 180 law enforcement agencies in Virginia. The new facility will allow the department to hire new people and purchase better equipment.
"I have examiners shoehorned into cubby holes, we've lost our training rooms due to office space,” he said. “It'll be nice to be able to expand out again and give everybody ample space."
The Roanoke lab sees about 13,000 cases each year and Patrick said that number could grow.
"Our big thing is turnaround time, trying to get the cases in law enforcement hands and commonwealth attorney hands and I really think that will help that,” he said.
Patrick hopes to double the staffing in Roanoke by the time the facility opens.
The department is planning to demolish the neighboring abandoned building in October once funding comes through for the department.
Patrick expects the project to be finished in three years.