HUNTSVILLE — For the past several years, the Huntsville Police Department's (HPD) Criminal Investigation Division has had to work in cramped quarters. However, relief for those officers is now on the way in the form of a brand new 14,000-square-foot Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) building complete with labs, office space, evidence processing areas and vehicle processing bays.

HPD Chief Kirk Giles said, "We have the advanced technology in place for crime scene analysis, but we need dedicated space to be more efficient and process evidence faster."

The new CSI building will be constructed on Wheeler Avenue across from the Huntsville Police Headquarters. The project also includes a separate, climate-controlled 13,500-square-foot vehicle and evidence storage facility.

As cases progress through the court system, the department must keep all evidence and a chain of custody for the prosecution to use in court proceedings and for follow-up appeals. According to HPD, this can sometimes take years.

"The law requires us to hold evidence for years, and in some cases in perpetuity," said investigator Jeremy Phipps. "The new warehouse will allow us to meet legal storage requirements for decades to come."

"The additional space will allow us to add more equipment for processing evidence and the room to work on multiple cases at once while securely protecting evidence from cross-contamination," he added.

Pearce Construction won the contract and has the city council's green light to proceed with the $9.7 million project. Work is expected to begin in late spring and should take one year to complete.

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