The Madison Crime Lab, one of the nation’s first state-level laboratories, will be expanded in April to accommodate the recent DNA at arrest initiatives.

A project approval earlier this month by the Wisconsin Building Commission under Gov. Scott Walker has allowed for the expansion of the lab, which could lead to more criminal cases getting solved.

The expansion to the crime lab will accommodate the DNA Databank program, which collects DNA samples from every person convicted of a felony in the State of Wisconsin, according to the website. Profiles of known offenders are searched against casework profiles to develop suspects, the website said.

The expansion to the laboratory includes six shared lab stations, a chemistry lab, a high-density storage room, an extraction room, a robotic room and support spaces, according to the Department of Administration’s Request for State Building Commission Action.

In 2013 Wisconsin passed a bill that expanded the Department of Justice’s DNA collection so they now can take samples at the time of arrest for all adult felony arrests and misdemeanor convictions, Dana Brueck, spokesperson for Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, said.

The act allowed for additional positions to accommodate the heavier workload as well as the expansion to provide additional space that is needed for the increased DNA analysis and for the extra employees, Bruek said. 

The Madison Crime Lab’s areas of analysis include controlled substances, DNA, crime scene responses, fingerprint identifications, forensic imaging and toxicology, the website said.

Brian O’Keefe, the administrator for the Division of Law Enforcement Services, said law enforcers take a buccal swab from the inside of the cheek of all arrested people. Law enforcement then forwards this information to the crime lab, he said.

At the crime lab, scientists process the DNA and develop a DNA profile, O’Keefe said. This profile is then uploaded into the Combined DNA Index System. The profiles of the individuals are then shared in a nationwide bank, he said.

The lab then uploads the information to a databank, O’Keefe said. Law enforcement uses the information for their investigations, and the data can help them rule out or include current suspects, he said.

“With the help of the databank program, we can more quickly identify the perpetrators of crimes, especially one where DNA is left, such as a sexual assault,” O’Keefe said.

O’Keefe said he was happy about the expansion and thinks it will be a positive move for the state of Wisconsin.  He said he hopes the program will help get lawbreakers into custody much quicker and will prevent future crimes.

The DNA at arrest program  is expected to begin in April of next year, Brueck said. Van Hollen was optimistic about the crime lab expansion, Brueck said.

“We’re very pleased with the action by the State Building Commission and appreciative of the Commission’s support for the expansion,” Brueck said. “The DNA at arrest program will further assist law enforcement in solving crimes, bringing justice to victims and reducing additional victimization.”