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Gov. Inslee visits WSP crime lab

 

Christopher Andersson

State officials talk about the Marysville Crime Lab and their increasing efficiency with DNA testing times on Oct. 6. From left,Washington State Patrol Chief John Batiste, Marysville Crime Lab forensic scientist Kristina Hoffman, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and Washington Results acting director Rich Roesler.

By searching for efficiencies and better ways of doing business the Marysville Crime Lab was able to handle a record number of cases in 2015.

The Washington State Patrol forensic laboratory in Tulalip implemented some "Lean management" methods which have been pushed by Washington Gov. Jay Inslee as a way to improve government efficiency.

Inslee visited the lab on Oct. 6 to talk about the successes of the program.

Since the implementation of Lean, the average turnaround for DNA testing went from 88 days to 70 days, a 20 percent reduction.

In addition, staff overtime dropped 56 percent, reducing payroll costs for the lab.

Snohomish County Sheriff Ty Trenary said that local families have benefited directly from the results.

"We had the opportunity to work very closely with the crime lab after the landslide in Oso and the work that they did was unbelievable. Being able to get results back as quickly as the lab did, especially for families waiting for an answer, was amazing," he said.

Giving the families much faster investigatory results is important on an emotional level, said Inslee.

"It sounds somewhat dry, but when we were working with the families in Oso, this means so much emotionally to people, to have that closure and understanding," he said.

Cases can move faster and suspects brought in sooner because of faster results as well.

"It has a huge impact on public safety because you can really identify perpetrators that much sooner," said Kristina Hoffman, a forensic scientist from the Marysville lab.

Lean training came from Inslee's Results Washington, an initiative that attempts to use evidence-based solutions to improve government.

"We've learned [Lean] from the Boeing company, they used it to double production in Renton with their 737 plant, Virginia Mason has used it to improve health results and now we're using it," said Inslee.

Hoffman herself brought many of the techniques from training back to the Marysville Crime Lab.

"It's really figuring out what's valuable to the customer," she said.

"What I liked is that you acted almost like this was a private business and these were your customers, and you went to your customers to figure out what they wanted," said Inslee.

Hoffman said the lab went out and found what detectives they worked with wanted and worked toward those goals.

Many of the improvements were simple office solutions that helped to improve efficiency.

"We have all this high-tech equipment here, DNA analyzers and robots, but here you have a blackboard with sticky notes," said Inslee.

Despite going through a record number of cases last year, the Marysville Crime Lab also saw a large increase in their workload.

"We're also seeing the same increase in our customer demands, so it's going to be something we're always challenged with," said Hoffman.

John Batiste, Washington State Patrol Chief, hopes to replicate the improvements across the state.

"We're looking to spread this to our other labs as well so they can take advantage of the efficiencies in the workplace," he said.

Rich Roesler, acting director of Results Washington, said that Lean management techniques have been effective in other areas of the government as well.

"This is one example out of many that are happening around state government. We're talking about easier-to-use forms, faster refunds, a whole litany of things in terms of improving services and cutting down errors," he said.

Batiste said that Washington State Patrol fleet shops that have adopted the methods are also improving.

"From our fleet shop we've doubled the amount of cars we can turn out in a month," he said.

Inslee hopes that these management techniques can improve all areas of the state government.

"You're seeing the tip of the iceberg. What Kristina is showing us today is one of thousands of state employees who have had the training," he said.

 

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