Arkansas State Crime Laboratory
The Arkansas State Crime Laboratory was established by Act 517 of 1977, Act 864 of 1979, and Act 45 of 1981. The laboratory offers services to state law enforcement agencies in forensic pathology, toxicology, physical evidence (serological and trace evidence), drug analysis, latent fingerprint identification, firearms and toolmarks, digital evidence, and DNA. The laboratory also participates with several federal agencies in the collection of data in the areas of DNA, through the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS); latent fingerprints, though the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS); and firearms, through the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN). In 2019, the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory was placed under the newly created umbrella agency the Arkansas Department of Public Safety (ADPS), along with other agencies such as the Division of Arkansas State Police and the Division of Emergency Management (ADEM), as part of Act 910 of 2019.
Prior to 1977, the functions of the laboratory were carried out by several state agencies, including the Arkansas Department of Health, the Arkansas State Police, the Department of Public Safety, and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS). The Arkansas State Crime Laboratory opened its doors in August 1981 in a building it shared with the headquarters of the Arkansas State Police. The original laboratory occupied the basement and third floor of the State Police/Crime Laboratory building. The basement housed the State Morgue, as it still does in the twenty-first century. As both agencies grew, it became necessary for the State Police to move to new offices in 1997. After the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory became the sole occupant of the building, the State of Arkansas undertook a $10.3 million renovation of the facility. The renovation was used to modernize the infrastructure, add laboratory work space, and add security features to the laboratory. The renovation was completed in the spring of 2002. During the 1997 session of the Arkansas General Assembly, a joint resolution was passed naming the Crime Laboratory building in honor of Dr. Rodney F. Carlton, the first medical examiner of the State of Arkansas.
The Arkansas State Crime Laboratory is headed by an executive director who is appointed by the governor. The executive director may delegate specific duties to qualified laboratory staff. An eight-member board promulgates rules, policies, and regulations. The board, which is appointed by the governor, is composed of a member of the judiciary, a member of the legal profession, a county sheriff, a chief of police, a prosecuting attorney, and two physicians. The board meets every three months.
The Arkansas State Crime Laboratory is staffed with approximately 144 personnel. The laboratory provides forensic services at no charge to all state and federal law enforcement agencies throughout Arkansas.
In 2018, it was announced that a new division of the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory would open in Lowell (Benton County) the following year as part of an effort to limit the backlog of laboratory analysis. The state also operates a limited laboratory in Hope (Hempstead County) for the testing of seized drugs.
For additional information:
Arkansas State Crime Laboratory. https://www.crimelab.arkansas.gov (accessed October 14, 2021).
Neal, Tracy M. “Setup Begins at Crime Lab in Northwest.” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, July 5, 2019, pp. 1B, 3B.
Thompson, Doug. “Northwest Arkansas to Get Its Own Crime Lab in ’19.” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, July 28, 2018, pp. 1A, 5A.
Kermit B. Channell II
Arkansas State Crime Laboratory
Last Updated: 10/14/2021