Regional partnership creates Local Crime Lab in Zillah, WA
Local law enforcement agencies ban together across Yakima Valley
to mitigate delays in State crime lab services
ZILLAH, WA – The Zillah City Council unanimously approved a contract to establish a Local Crime Lab to serve law enforcement agencies across the Yakima Valley. The lab is a prototype for increasing resources and integrating access to technology to address service delays from the Washington State Crime Lab. The Local Crime Lab will be centrally located in the City of Zillah inside a Yakima County Sheriff’s substation. When fully operational, the lab will be the first accredited regional collaboration of its kind in Washington.
"Our collaboration and coordination with law enforcement professionals across the region is a key component of Zillah's low crime rate and reputation as a safe community," said City Administrator Michael Grayum. “Zillah's central location will be an asset to the agencies who will utilize the Local Crime Lab to speed up criminal investigations and coordinate crime prevention efforts in ways that will benefit residents and businesses across central Washington.”
Yakima County received funding from the federal American Rescue Plan Act and allocated it to the Yakima Valley Conference of Governments (YVCOG) to administer the regional program. Federal funding will cover most start-up costs. Local governments will also pay a proportional fee based on their population to utilize the lab’s services.
Yakima County Sheriff Bob Udell joined City Officials in Zillah for the approval of the regional contract. "We have great wine, outstanding apples, and violent gang members," said Yakima County Sheriff Udell, who also serves as the Chair of the lab's Operations Board. "I have two goals for this program. Number one is that we all get more than we are paying for, and number two is ensuring everyone engaged in this effort has the same level of input."
"We appreciate the thoughtful leadership of the Mayor and City Council to partner in this endeavor,” said Grayum. “Special thanks to the collaborative, visionaries who worked to establish the Local Crime Lab, especially Sherriff Udell, Yakima County Commissioners, the staff and elected leaders serving on the YVCOG governing and operations boards, and the Police Departments across Yakima Valley.”
Zillah Police Chief Tim Quantrell serves on the Operations Board of the lab with other Police Chiefs across the region.
"The crime lab will benefit all agencies as we address many of the same issues and similar crimes," said Chief Quantrell. "The resources of the Local Crime Lab will help us better coordinate information that will result in developing better leads and solving crimes quicker."
The lab will:
- Collect data and statistics to perform integrated county-wide reporting of criminal activities.
- Train local county-wide civilian forensic experts.
- Process bullet cartridge casings collected from crime scenes.
- Access warrant authorized cell phones and computers confiscated by law enforcement.
- Process DNA evidence to identify victims or evidence left at crime scenes.
"The State has a monopoly on the crime lab, and we get what we get with that service," said Vicki Baker, YVCOG Deputy Director. "This coordinated approach is a prototype for addressing regional problems with programs that provide quicker services and deliver results."
Sherriff Udell added, "This regional effort is being noticed as we take care of ourselves and the communities in our region. I am of the strongest opinion that for our valley to improve public safety, we need to work together, combine resources, pursue enhanced technology, and start taking matters into our own hands instead of relying only on the State any longer."
Questions about the new Local Crime Lab in Zillah may be directed to Sherriff Udell and Michael Grayum, City Administrator, at 509-829-5151 ext. 224 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the City of Zillah
Founded in 1892, the City of Zillah is home to award-winning community events and more than twenty wineries in the Rattlesnake Hills American Viticultural Area, which produce world-class grapes, hand-crafted tasting experiences, and some of Washington's finest wines. Zillah is also home to Yakima Chief Hops, a research facility connecting family hop farms with the world's finest brewers across the globe. More information is available on our website and Facebook.