New tools expedite work at Utah Crime Lab; effort is part of statewide efficiency push

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Finding fingerprints and identifying criminals and victims is what the Utah Crime Laboratory does every day, and now those steps are happening at a much faster rate than ever before.

Gov. Gary Herbert challenged all state services to improve their efficiency rates by 25 percent by the end of next year, and the state crime lab is on track to reach that goal.

Thursday morning, Utah’s forensic scientists showed the governor how their new technology helps them find criminals’ palm prints, not just fingerprints. That gives law enforcement personnel more ways to identify the culprits and get them locked up faster.

The lab has improved a lot before the governor's deadline; it used to take 60 days to get a print result, and now it takes an average of only two weeks.

“Some of the computers we had and the connections we had weren't that good,” said the State Crime Lab’s director, Jay Henry. “So we added a little bit of funding so that helped us with a few new computers and a few new network connections, and that was amazing. That helped with the data and how it flowed, and how much we were able to speed up our process.”

The Utah Crime Lab is not the only state agency meeting the governor's challenge; the governor said two-thirds of all state agencies are on track to meet their efficiency goal.