Today I went to a meeting of the Crime Lab Directors. Santa Clara County has built a new crime lab on the corner of W. Hedding and Guadalupe by the jail, so we drove over there after the meeting and took the nickle tour. 4 floors, all high tech all the time. Wireless, computer notebooks, not even a photolab, all electronic with a secure link to the DA's office. Lots of rooms with monitors to look at evidence, lots of lights for photography, more cabinets than Imelda Marcos could fill, sliding evidence banks like in university libraries. Safety features, redundancy, uninterruptible power supplies and generators. A firing range (they have a long tub with water to fire bullets into to get the rifleing marks without smashing the bullet, which only travels a few feet in water) and a garage to work on vehicles. Every sample will have an FID tag, and there are scanners at each elevator and each door so all the samples will be tracked, all the time. Not only key cards on all doors, but a thumbprint reader also. A green building, sited to use the sun, one of only a handful in the county to get the LEEDs golden seal (not sure what that means, but it is a big deal). They have only started to move in, not much equipment yet, but WAY cool tour. What a show-case.
By comparison, yesterday I was at the Department of Justice in the capitol, in the tox lab where they run blood and urine alcohol, drugs and so forth. Turns out for every person they stop who is under the legal alcohol limit, they go ahead and run a tox screen. The biggest problem? Ambien, the sleep aid. Now this lab has been there some years, and it for sure is not in the same ball-park. Books, papers, files piled up to the ceilings and held in place with bungee cords (earthquake safety). Old equipment, out dated computers, tired offices.
And before that, at Ca Food and Ag. We gave a presentation in the library, full of books from the 40's. Really. Government offices sure have a wide range of longevity and modernity.
Some days the job is really interesting. I just wish I weren't exhausted.