By Theola Labbé-DeBose
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, February 26, 2009
The 1st District police station is getting new digs.
Next month, the station house will move to the former Anthony A. Bowen Elementary School in the 100 block of M Street SW, Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) announced this week.
The move will make way for a $220 million forensics laboratory at the old location, in the 400 block of Fourth Street SW. The six-story building, slated to open in 2011, will house a public health lab, the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner and the city's first crime laboratory. Currently, the FBI processes forensic evidence and the Drug Enforcement Administration analyzes drugs on behalf of the city.
D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier told the D.C. Council last year that the agency has been limited by not having a forensic laboratory. The FBI conducts DNA tests only when D.C. police have a suspect, Lanier told the council last February. "However if our department had our own, fully functional crime lab," she said, "we would be able to conduct many more cold-hit analyses, in which DNA recovered at a crime scene is tested against the national repository."
Bill Vossberg, the District's crime lab director, said that the completed project would be a "full-service crime lab that will be able to produce what is needed for forensic science testing."
1st District Cmdr. David K. Kamperin said the move of the station house should be completed by March 16. Service to residents will not be interrupted during the transition, he said. Movers will begin taking items to the new location in the next few weeks, escorted by police when transporting sensitive materials such as weapons and cash, Kamperin said.
The work to convert Bowen school into a police station was completed in seven months, Fenty said. Assistant Police Chief Diane Groomes said residents pushed to have the new station in the heart of the Southwest neighborhood, as opposed to the current location along a commercial corridor surrounded by federal buildings. The new building will have a community room that is twice the size of the one in the current station. The building is also the first new police facility in more than a decade, Groomes said.
"I know the officers will be happy to get a new home," Groomes said.
D.C. police will also get new space to store evidence, Fenty said. The police have outgrown their current leased quarters on the campus of D.C. Village in Southeast, and the city plans to build a 30,000-square-foot facility. The city will finalize a contractor and submit the contract to the D.C. Council for approval next month, officials said.