Anchorage Police Department has for nearly two decades relied upon a mobile forensics lab that one officer said was basically "a motor home to go to crime scenes."
Now, thanks to an appropriation, Alaska's largest police force has the tools it needs to better combat crime on Anchorage streets.
What the new van offers:
• More floor space. Strahle said with extra length and additional side pull-out, there about 75-square-feet of additional space. That means a lot less squeezing past fellow officers while working a scene.
• More external lights, enough to “light up Mulcahy Stadium,” Anchorage's 3,500 seat baseball stadium, Strahle said.
• Rubber floors and medical-grade cabinets. The old vehicle had linoleum floors and lots of “soft, porous,” surfaces that were difficult to clean. Now the entire inside of the vehicle could be hosed down if needed (although Strahle added that he hopes it never gets that dirty.) Easier cleaning means fewer cross-contamination worries.
• More storage. Strahle said sometimes up to 200 pieces of evidence can be collected at a scene. A series of 6-foot-tall cabinets intended for evidence storage line the new pull-out portion of the vehicle.
• Better connectivity. Power outlets to charge laptops are everywhere. The vehicle even has its own mini-server farm on deck to stay connected to headquarters no matter where it travels.
Capt. Dave Koch said the old rig was essentially a “motorhome built to go to crime scenes.”