Executive Director Jimmy Barnhill says the North Louisiana Crime Lab has a backlog of about 800 serious crimes- not including routine drug tests and minor crimes.
"If we quit receiving new cases right now, it would take us a year to catch up," Barnhill says. "Obviously, the more we can decrease that backlog, the quicker we're going to be able to get results out."
The new 86,000 square foot North Louisiana Forensic Science Center will help alleviate the backlog. Not only will the new building be more than double the lab's current space, it will also be equipped with cutting-edge forensic technology.
"Just like your cell phone, smart phone, and computers, every day the [forensic] technology is a little bit better," said Caddo Parish Sheriff Steve Prator. "We need this desperately."
Authorities will open bids April 8 with construction to start May 1. Work should take between 14 and 18 months.
The project will cost about $24 million and use Capitol Outlay funding from the state.
The lab will go up on land leased from LSU Health. Medical students will train at the center in forensic pathology and forensic sciences.