Crews break ground on new KCPD crime lab in east Kansas City - KAIT-Jonesboro, AR-News, weather, sports


Crews break ground on new KCPD crime lab in east Kansas City

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Kansas City officials put shovels in the ground Tuesday for a new crime lab and patrol station.

City leaders held a groundbreaking ceremony at 10 a.m. at the East Campus construction site on Wabash Avenue between 26th and 27th streets. With a quick toss, the dirt where old homes once stood became the future spot for a new East Patrol Police Station and Crime Lab Campus.

Police officers say their old station and crime lab was too small and out dated but, by the fall of 2015, the space will become the new police campus for the east side.

"I want the residents to see we are on the same page. We're concerned about safety, we're concerned about police presence where we want one and need one," said Kansas City, MO, Mayor Sly James.

Houses in four blocks, from 26th Street and Prospect Avenue to Brooklyn Avenue, were demolished to make room for the new police campus.

"I give my sincere appreciation to each of the families who have made the ultimate sacrifice," said Council member for the 3rd district, Jermaine Reed.

The city purchased the properties from homeowners but not everyone was willing to go. Even though Armeena Powell's home is now gone, she's still fighting in court with the city.

"They're saying that we sacrificed for this project, in fact we were sacrificed," Powell said.

Others who grew up in this area, including Board of Police Commissioner President Alvin Brooks, says the blighted community needed the new 17 acre development.

"Our progress for the total community is what's important," Brooks said.

"I was sad to see the whole four blocks go down because I grew up here and I know a lot of the families who were displaced, but I'm pretty sure we have to look at everybody moving to a better place," said former resident G.G. Owens.

Reed says residents will be able to benefit from the construction project and jobs thereafter.

"Stand on your word! That's what we want. Get people that's living in this community involved. Not people from surrounding areas, but people right here that's directly affected," said Dee Austin, a nearby resident.

In July, city officials said the original budget greatly underestimated costs for land acquisition, design, furnishings and equipment.

The budget increased to $74 million which caused city leaders to consider a smaller version of the crime lab than original proposed.

The city had already sold $60 million in bonds for the East Patrol project, to be paid for with a quarter-cent public safety sales tax that voters approved in 2010.

In August, the council unanimously approved a $78 million bond package that included $14 million to deal with the increased budget costs.

Crime lab director Linda Netzel said the current crime lab is backlogged with cases.

"We don't work cases first in, first out. What we have to address is the level of violence of a particular crime and whether or not the suspect is known or unknown," Netzel said.

Netzel said limitations at the current crime lab are causing backlogs which forces investigators to triage cases. Recently, they had about 2,000 fingerprint cases and 500 DNA cases waiting for analysis.

The new crime lab is expected to lower the number of cases waiting to be processed.

Copyright 2013 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved. 

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