Idaho State Police highlight forensic scientists during National Forensic Science Week

Posted at 4:14 PM, Sep 20, 2022

MERIDIAN, Idaho — Technology has changed the way we do just about everything these days and advancements in forensic science play a major role in how investigators solve local crimes.

Matthew Gamette has been with the Idaho State Police Forensic Services department for 14 years. In that time, he said advancements in science and technology have dramatically changed how many tests are performed in state labs.

"Lots of changes in the ways we do the science, changes in the instrumentation, the methods that we use, so lots of really good things going on," Gamette said. "We are looking at just state-of-the-art methods we are using here in our state."

This week, ISP recognizes National Forensic Science Week, highlighting the scientific and technical professionals who serve in Idaho's three state labs in Meridian, Coeur D'Alene and Pocatello.

An event Tuesday evening at Boise State University is open to the public and available to view remotely via zoom.

ISP's Forensic Services scientists test evidence for hundreds of law enforcement agencies statewide involving fingerprints, DNA, weapons, and evidence that ultimately shows up in the courtroom.

"If you see something that's going to court or is being investigated, I would say the majority of the time forensic science is involved in some way," Gamette said. "Either they've identified the drug, or they've identified substances in the blood; they've identified the individual through DNA; they've identified something in the case through fingerprint analysis."

Plans are currently underway for a brand new 60,000-square-foot forensic lab in Meridian that will eventually replace their current Treasure Valley lab which Gamette said they've simply outgrown.

The new space will allow the department to hire more scientists and work on more cases at a time, ultimately speeding up the process of testing evidence for local agencies.

"In the Treasure Valley, currently, we don't do any kind of toxicology; we don't do firearms examinations; we send those to our Pocatello or Coeur D'Alene facilities which adds time," Gamette said. "When we're having to ship something it adds time to the analysis. Soon we'll be able to do those services in the Meridian lab which will allow us to be quicker and more of a resource for our local agencies."

Gamette said the department has already purchased land for the new facility near their existing headquarters in Meridian near the city's water tower. It will likely take a few years before the new lab is up and running.