Detroit’s Crime Lab Suffers A Myriad Of Problems


Electrical extension cords dangle down the walls to power the lights at the Detroit police crime lab, says the Detroit News. “We have a lot of challenges with power surges and brownouts,” said third Deputy Chief Paula Lytle, who started heading the Forensic Services Unit about a month ago after working there since 1977. She wants more freezers to preserve DNA evidence and rape kits, but the building, a former elementary school, lacks the electrical capacity to add appliances.

Bright yellow police tape cordons off a quarter of the chemistry lab because water leaks have lifted the linoleum tiles and made the floor unsafe. Shotguns and automatic rifles are stuffed into shopping carts for storage; inside the walk-in freezer for the DNA samples and rape kits, evidence bags are stacked on the floor. Plastic milk crates and cardboard boxes hold hundreds of manila envelopes marked with fluorescent tags. This summer, the lab will get cutting-edge technology for a robot to speed the processing of DNA evidence. Lytle is worried the lab may not have the space and electrical capacity to use the new technology properly.


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