Hamilton’s police chief says the long-awaited opening of a new investigative services building is a “major step forward” for the service.
The building, which has been in development since the city’s police board began discussing plans for it in 2010, is nearing completion and will allow the force to meet “contemporary requirements” for the handling of forensic evidence.
Located right by Hamilton police headquarters, bordered by Catharine, Mary, Rebecca and Wilson streets, it’s expected to be up and running this spring.
Chief Eric Girt told Global News Radio 900 CHML’s Bill Kelly Show that it’s a major advancement for the whole investigative unit, but especially forensic investigators, who have been operating in seriously outdated environments.
“We’re moving from a really 1970s-based lab setup to one that is current in terms of best practices, isolation of victim, accused person, the scene, and then a fourth lab — the continuity, the handling of exhibits,” said Girt.
“It really is a major step forward.”
The new facility will also allow for an improved process involving the handling and processing of digital and video evidence, which Girt said is crucial to solving all crimes — especially those that are more complicated.
“Whether it’s shootings or otherwise, whether it’s even the homicide of Cece Luppino — we had video of the shooter,” Girt said.
“So, I mean, that’s a major step forward, where you at least have a photo — and I realize it’s a person of interest, because it doesn’t clearly establish that he did the shooting — but now you’ve got a starting point.
“And in many of our investigations, whether it’s cars involved, people involved, how many people, that video evidence is so pivotal to sorting stuff out.”
In addition to its value as a centre for investigations, Girt said the facility will also allow police to provide better service for victims and survivors of crime.
“Whether it’s sexual assault or domestic violence, we’ll have a dedicated building that is responsive to their needs — how they come into the building, how they’re handled,” the chief said.
Construction on the $25.8-million project began in 2018.
The planning process included consultation with residents in the Beasley neighbourhood and making modifications to plans in order to address concerns about the building’s height and design.