Technologically-savvy crime lab reduces backlog on cold cases - FOX 10 News | fox10phoenix.com

Technologically-savvy crime lab reduces backlog on cold cases

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MESA, Ariz. -

For years thousands of crimes sat unsolved in Mesa, but a new tool is finally bringing answers to decades old cases.

The DNA results of clothing from a crime scene and the forensic analysis of skin cells or hair follicles -- these can be critical pieces of evidence in an investigation. Detectives have to rely on crime labs now more than ever -- science is something investigators can count on.

"The work that's being done here is massively impressive," says Kimberly Fiorucci, Mesa Forensic Services Administrator.

Fiorucci isn't the only one who thinks so. In fact, this forensic analysis facility in Mesa is one of a kind. They've even received international recognition for their work, which has departments all over the world taking notice.

"What it does is just reaffirm what we already know. We knew we were doing good work here, we're very forward thinking, we like technology, we always look forward to what we can do better, we're definitely never a stagnate lab."

A lot of the activity here comes from logistic capabilities -- this relatively new space is seven times larger than the old one -- and the results speak for themselves.

"Mesa is one of the only agencies that has a database like this that we can insure 100 percent of our cases are being followed up on," says Fiorucci.

Those follow-ups numbered in the thousands before -- now there's only a handful at any given time. And a dozen DNA samples used to take 12 hours to analyze. Technicians can now process close to a hundred in one third of the time.

The relationship between the Mesa Crime Lab and the detectives in the street and vice versa has never been better thanks to the fact that this facility is now a major investigative tool.

"Officers are so much more intelligent about even what the crime lab does because of that," says Sgt. Tony Landato.

Sgt. Tony Landato says as a detective you want to believe the evidence you collect on scene will lead to justice.

"While you're working the case, while the lead's hot you want to be able to get the answers to the questions you have a lead."

Now, thanks to the forensics lab, investigators have just that -- leads in a fraction of the time.

"It's just phenomenal and every time I see the teamwork and them coming together, when a major case comes, there's nothing more impressive," says Fiorucci.

So it isn't just technology that makes the Mesa lab stand out. The International Association of Chiefs of Police honored Mesa's organizational structure, and the communication model between the lab and the law enforcement officials out on the street, and they hope it serves as an example for departments everywhere.

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