From humble beginnings in the 1970s, the Independence Police Forensic Crime Laboratory has developed into one of the most important crime fighting tools in the Midwest.


From humble beginnings in the 1970s, the Independence Police Forensic Crime Laboratory has developed into one of the most important crime fighting tools in the Midwest.

The laboratory was originally designed and intended to serve the Independence Police Department. It was soon recognized, however, that the laboratory could serve an important need throughout the Midwest.  Today, more than 14 jurisdictions utilize the services of the Independence Police Crime Laboratory. 

An interview with Acting Laboratory Director Elaina Parman revealed that recent expansion of the lab facility work space and acquisitions of new technology and equipment have greatly increased the lab’s capability and effectiveness. Director Parman pointed out that the lab is not only instrumental in processing crime scenes and examining evidence but it has also become a very proactive tool for tracking down criminals through some of its newest technology programs.

One of those programs is latent fingerprint identification. When latent prints are recovered from crime scenes or from items connected to crimes, the IPD crime lab now has the capability of processing them through the Automated Fingerprint Identification System to compare the prints to millions of other finger prints on file throughout the system. Numerous criminals have been identified through this technology and brought to justice. Independence Police acquired and installed the AFIS equipment in 2007 and now handles between 45-130 cases each month. The lab currently employs eight people that include five crime scene investigators, one latent prints technician, one chemist, and the director who is also a chemist. 

The department is also in the process of interviewing candidates to fill a new full time chemist position and one part time latent print position. The five crime scene investigators currently on staff process between 150-220 cases per year. The forensic chemist processes between 75-100 cases per month and the demand for chemist services continues to increase. The chemist tests for DWI/DUI cases identifying blood alcohol and common drugs of abuse in the toxicology section of the lab.

To meet future needs and demands it is anticipated the laboratory will expand the disciplines it currently has to include DNA, trace evidence, arson, and firearms investigation. This will help reduce the burden on other laboratories that are backlogged by months and help expedite local cases for trial.  When court cases are on hold for any reason, justice is delayed and crime deterrence is hindered.

As one of the only two forensic crime laboratories in western Missouri and a member in good standing with the internationally recognized American Society of Crime Directors, the Independence Police Department again shows why it is considered a world class police department.