It's a big improvement over the old lab, which was stuffed into rooms, hallways and closets at police headquarters. But even with those limitations, the crime lab has always done some amazing work. It helped solve one of the biggest cases in Colorado history, including the death of Rocky Mountain News Columnist Greg Lopez.
Lopez was killed on St. Patricks Day in 1996, when someone ran his car off the road on I-25. His car rolled and the other driver took off. Crime lab investigators and officers at the scene collected car parts scattered along the roadway. One of the pieces was put under a microscope at the lab and they found it was painted with a very unique paint, the color cosmic black.
They found that only one cosmic black, $56,000 BMW was sold in Denver, to a troubled 35-year-old man named Spicer Breeden. Breeden was part of one of Colorado's richest families. His great grandfather was Charles Boettcher.
When police went to his house to question him, they found Breeden dead. He shot himself. Detectives found out another man was in the car with Breeden, his friend Peter Schmitz. Schmitz was charged but acquitted. There was no justice. It was just the kind of story Greg Lopez might have written about.
The new Denver Police Crime lab will help solve cases. It will lead to arrests and help with closure for victims. But as the Greg Lopez case proved, for the victim's families - it can never take away the hurt.
(KUSA-TV © 2012 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)