Written by DAVID DUPONT Sentinel Staff Writer
Thursday, 25 July 2013 09:35
Among the dignitaries gathered for the groundbreaking of the new Ohio BCI lab, Lizette Cooper, dressed casually in a blouse, denim skirt with a backpack, stood out.
|Maj Ronald Keel scans the crowd before the ground breaking ceremony for the Northwest Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation location at BGSU. (Photos: Shane Hughes/Sentinel-Tribune)
Amid Wednesday's speeches and shoveling she evinced enthusiasm for the proceedings.
A master's student in molecular biology, she's dreamed of studying forensic science since she was a child. Her interest in putting clues together to solve a mystery dates back to watching "Scooby Doo" and then adult procedurals such as "CSI."
As much as she wanted to study forensic science "I could never find a really good program."
Now with this new lab, and the academic programs developed around it, that dream is coming true.
When she learned that the new crime lab was opening in Bowling Green, and with it the development of a master's in forensic science, "I got super excited."
Excitement was a common theme among those who paraded to the podium to comment on the $11.9 million project, before lining up to toss ceremonial shovelfuls of dirt.
The 30,000-square-feet Bureau of Criminal Investigation lab is scheduled to open in September, 2014, and will replace a lab now in rental space off East Wooster Street in Bowling Green. Employment will be up slightly at the new facility, to about 40, according to Thomas Stickrath, superintendent of Ohio BCI.
Attorney General Mike DeWine, he said, "challenged me to make this the premier institution in the country."
DeWine praised the speed with which the project has moved through the state and university bureaucracies.
BGSU President Mary Ellen Mazey said it was just two years ago that she first spoke with DeWine about the possibility of locating the lab on campus.
That's "light speed in state government," Stickrath said.
The BCI lab provides on-site laboratory services and on-site investigative services.
DeWine said it was also important that the lab is "a central part of the campus ... that this will be part of the campus itself." The lab will be located at the corner of North College and Leroy avenues, just north of the Public Safety Building.
The university has moved ahead to create three new undergraduate majors, starting this fall, in forensic science, with a couple more in the wings. Also a master's degree in forensic science is expected to be offered starting in fall 2014, when the lab is expected to open.
|Wes Fahrbach (left) shakes hands with Betty Montgomery after the ground breaking ceremony for the Northwest Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation location at BGSU.
That program, Provost Rodney Rogers said, will be for both full- and part-time students to accommodate the needs of professionals already working in the field.
He said he expects 300 to 400 students to be enrolled in the undergraduate programs, and about 60 in the graduate program.
Mazey said when she was dean at West Virginia University she oversaw a program in forensic sciences, and she always wanted but never had a criminal investigation lab on campus. Now she will.
DeWine said the building will be designed to allow visitors to view the activities without disrupting the work. "We want people to have an idea of what BCI does," he said. "They'll be able to see the work being done."
This should help expose young people to science and the scientific professions.
Bowling Green is an ideal spot because of its central location within the 22-county area it serves, DeWine noted.
It is one of three BCI labs in the state. Those labs process 161,000 pieces of evidence a year, he said.
"Our core mission is to protect Ohio families," DeWine said. The lab does that by "finding the bad guys, and in some instances, who didn't do it."
The new facility, the attorney general said, "makes Ohioans safer."
The new lab is part of DeWine's initiative to speed up the processing of evidence and process a backlog of sexual assault kits, some 18 to 19 years old.
"This is challenging work," DeWine said. "This is life saving work."
The BCI may not wrap up cases in 60 minutes like the actors on "CSI," he said, but "we do it better."
Last Updated on Thursday, 25 July 2013 11:31