The Crime Lab is operated by the Alaska Department of Public Safety (DPS). Their website is http://www.dps.state.ak.us/CrimeLab/. The DPS is not affiliated with the AlaskanCitizensForJustice website. This website is to support our local law enforcement community and the new Alaska State Crime Lab.



The Alaska Scientific Crime Detection Laboratory is the only accredited forensic science lab in Alaska, serving the entire state. Supporting state and municipal law enforcement, the lab currently provides the following services:

  • DNA, including CODIS
  • Latent prints
  • Forensic Toxicology
  • Breath Alcohol
  • Shoe/Tire Impressions
  • Biological Screening
  • Firearm/Ballistic Range
  • Controlled Substances

The lab does not charge any fees to Alaska law enforcement agencies for these services. State labs test for free, but one DNA test at a private lab can cost upward of $700, and a single rape case could include five specimens. The forensic scientists at the Alaska Crime Lab investigate and provide verification or elimination of links between crime scene evidence, suspects and victims. The scientists provide expert testimony in both the prosecution and defense of defendants. When evidence is sent out of state Alaska has to pay for that lab technician to come and testify when the case is in trial.  Hotel accommodations and flight arrangements, usually made at the last minute, are costly.  We need to keep all evidence processing in state.  Keep in mind, that our crime lab analyst fly to remote villages to testify in major cases.


Although the lab currently provides many services, new technology and disciplines have been developed in forensic science. The old lab didn't  have the space, and thus the staff, to keep up with the enhancements in forensic technology and it had outlived its usefulness. If the lab was to keep up with the technology, crime rate, and population of Alaska, the lab had to be updated and expanded.

Why we needed a new crime lab?

  • Caseload exceeded lab capacity
  • Recent legislation requires more services, including: HB90, which generates an additional 6,000 samples/year; The Innocence Project (legislation proposed to retain all biological evidence); Anonymous Reporting of Sexual Assaults (results in the need to store sexual assault kits indefinitely).
  • Limited evidence storage jeopardizes prosecutions
  • Not expandable at old site
  • No space to perform needed analyses such as Toxicology

These factors have an impact on Alaska's crime rate, including:

  • Property crimes were not investigated and evidence wasn't even collected due to lab's limited capacity
  • Alaska continues to have the highest rape statistic in the country
  • DNA is not entered into the CODIS Database, allowing offenders to repeat their crimes with impunity 
  • No Toxicology related prosecution
  • 300 Toxicology cases per year were not investigated

Why is it important to store DNA evidence?

  • Preserving DNA evidence preserves ability to prove innocence or guilt 
  • Preserved evidence can help solve closed cases and exonerate the innocent
  • Preserving biological evidence from crime scenes is critically important because DNA can provide the best evidence of innocence or guilt upon review of a case. None of the nation's more than 215 DNA exonerations would have been possible had the biological evidence not been available to test.

What are the new crime investigation technologies?

New technology is constantly improving both the speed and accuracy of forensic science procedures. This also makes it possible to process increasing volumes of cases. More technology also allows a lab to do more types of tests, and increases both the quantity and accuracy of the testing. The additional equipment which usually accompanies advanced technology normally requires more space and utility infrastructure, leading to the need for a larger building. Y-STR, Mitochondrial, Low Copy-DNA: these are techniques currently emerging that may provide information when traditional STR (Short Tandem Repeat DNA) analysis does not. Also, Laser Microdissection: a technique for separating DNA at the cellular level, increasing the probability of successful analysis on low level samples and mixtures.



The old lab had a large backlog of cases. A substantial backlog may sound terrible, but it also represents criminals who are still free to act. The solution is, of course, a higher priority on lab funding and approval by the Alaskan legislature for the funding needed to build the new crime lab.


Size of the old lab

The old lab was 18,000 square feet, and was built in 1982 for an existing staff of 11, with a maximum staff of 23 overall, but current staff is now 40. Move-in is projected for 2012, if funding is approved during this Legislative session. The new lab's caseload will increase to match the current staff, space and new technology (increased law enforcement staff equal increased evidence submissions). The lab is sized for year 2020 when staff is anticipated to reach 67, based on population and crime rate projections. This will require a lab of 83,500 square feet. The team of Lab Management and staff, architects, lab planners and DPS staff worked together to limit the size to 83,000 square feet from an earlier projected, larger facility. New technologies require more lab space than the old lab's outdated technologies.


History shows that productivity in new forensic labs is much greater in the initial years of operation than the labs they replace. There is always a noticeable increase in caseload production with a new lab. Older labs operating in compressed space typically experience a flattening of productivity and number of cases requested by law enforcement as the facility ages.


A recently-built Iowa lab reached its target capacity three years after occupancy, becoming undersized seventeen years earlier than planned. This was due to the owner's decision to ignore the planning horizon in order to save on immediate construction costs. The Iowa lab is now experiencing extended caseload turnaround times.


Today's technologically advanced labs require more space than old labs, for:

  • Complex mechanical and electrical systems
  • Security/Evidence custody systems
  • Lab casework and equipment
  • Stiffer structure for vibration control
  • Lab safety systems
  • Lab accreditation requirements
  • Designed to support future change & expansion

Why couldn't the new lab be added onto the existing lab?

The old site was too small to accommodate a building expansion. A thorough independent analysis by two separate architectural firms concluded that expansion of the existing site was too small. Also, and very important, the old lab needs to be kept in operation during construction of the new lab. Finally, the old lab couldn't be modified to support vital technologies (toxicology, mitochondrial DNA testing, etc).




Since 1976, Alaska has ranked in the top five states in the nation for the highest rate of reported rape per capita. In 1993, Alaska ranked 1st in the nation with highest per capita incidence of rape. Alaska has 6 times the national average of reported child sexual assault. One in four girls before the age of 12 and one in six boys before the age of 18 nationally will be sexually assaulted.


Domestic Violence

Alaska ranks among the top 5 states in the nation for per capita rates of domestic violence. The rate of Alaskan women being killed by a partner is 1.5 times the national average. If the mother is not safe, neither are the children.

In Memory of Bonnie Craig...
This website is dedicated to the memory of Bonnie Craig, daughter of Karen Foster. Bonnie, age 18, was murdered on her way to college...and a bright future. Her killer, Kenneth Dion, was found guilty of 1st degree murder, 2 counts 2nd degree murder and one count 1st degree sexual assault on June 15th, 2011. Dion was identified by a DNA match  in CODIS,our national DNA database. He was sentenced to 124 years October 31, 2011. See the BLOG and Bulletins and Updates pages for more info.

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