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New crime lab brings opportunities for criminal justice students

Alyssa N. Benes Photo Editor

Crime Lab continues to be under construction and will be finished in November or December. The lab is a working crime lab for the Bureau of Criminal Investigation.

The Bureau of Criminal Investigation crime lab being built on campus brings many opportunities for criminal justice students.

“Because the lab is being built on campus, it has led to the development of undergraduate and graduate programs that we’ve never had here,” said Steven Lab, director of the criminal justice program.

The criminal justice program now offers a specialization in forensic investigation for undergraduates and Lab is developing a master’s degree in forensic science. Biology and chemistry students can now specialize in forensic biology and forensic chemistry.

There is no classroom space in the building due to the contamination risk that could pose.

“The integrity of all the investigations and lab work that is conducted must be extraordinarily high,” said Steve Krakoff, vice president of Capital Planning and Campus Operations.

However, some students will have internships or field experience in the lab.

“They’ve made a commitment to take students, and we’re very happy about that,” Lab said.

Most students who gain lab experience will be graduate students, though undergraduate students will have some opportunities too, Lab said.

All students will have the opportunity to take tours of the lab in their classes. The building is designed so that students can observe lab work through windows without contaminating work areas.

Students will also benefit from being able to use old equipment that the BCI is offering to the University.

The equipment is “still usable and good for teaching,” Lab said.

Classes will get visits from the BCI employees on campus, and BCI employees may even teach some classes in the future, Lab said.

The increase in opportunities has led to an increase in criminal justice students.

“The numbers are definitely showing up,” Lab said. “It was a huge jump for us in criminal justice.”

Last year, the first year the forensic specializations were offered, 14 or 15 students specialized in forensic investigation, Lab said. This year, 40 freshmen chose that specialization.

This increase came before the completion of the lab.

Construction should be finished in November or December, Krakoff said.

The exterior is “substantially completed” and most of the remaining work is inside, Krakoff said.

This includes work on conference rooms, an evidence drop-off area and a ballistics testing area.

After construction is complete, operations will move from the BCI crime lab on East Wooster Street to the campus location, Lab said.

The crime lab is being constructed at zero cost to the University, said Senior Project Manager Mike Schuessler. The $11.6 million cost is covered by the Ohio Attorney General’s office.

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