WALKER, Mich. (WOOD) — You see it at major crime scenes: That large, bus-looking vehicle that carries Michigan State Police forensic experts to the scene of the crime.

Now, MSP Lab experts have a new vehicle to help them process crime scenes.

The old mobile crime lab was built in 1999. The new mobile crime lab has advancements like a flat screen mounted near the front.

“This is actually a monitor for photographs. We can take photographs so that our detectives don’t have to enter the scene. Less people we have tromping through a scene the better,” said 1st Lt. Jay Peterson, who runs the 6th District Crime Lab based in Walker.

The truck is packed with other features not included in the old truck, like LED lighting, clean workspaces and a light tower.

“Essentially, it’s a remote laboratory,” Peterson said.

The new rig, which costs just under $300,000, is ready to provide crime scene services for the 150 police agencies in the 17 counties covered by MSP’s 6th District.

  • A Michigan State Police mobile crime lab. (Oct. 13, 2022)
  • Inside a Michigan State Police mobile crime lab. (Oct. 13, 2022)
  • Inside a Michigan State Police mobile crime lab. (Oct. 13, 2022)
  • A Michigan State Police mobile crime lab. (Oct. 13, 2022)
  • Michigan State Police mobile crime labs. (Oct. 13, 2022)

“All of our disciplines, whether it’s trace evidence, DNA, footwear, latent prints, firearms. All of those things. It’s a smaller version of what we have here in the laboratory,” Peterson said. “Those local agencies really rely on us for this service. Our crime scene response team has been very busy in the last several years, and this new vehicle is going to give us the opportunity to better serve those areas.”

While it’s blue on the outside, there’s green on the inside: the work area, or module, runs off battery power.

“When they’re on the scene, it helps so that the truck doesn’t have to run, so were not putting out any environmental gasses out of the diesel engine because the whole module runs by itself on the battery,” said David Henry with Muskegon-based Emergency Services, the company that outfitted the rig.

If the batteries run down, a backup generator kicks in.

While the technology inside is the latest, most up-to-date, the mission is the same: To provide that all important puzzle piece.

“Whether it’s a large piece, where we find something that may convict someone or may exonerate someone, or just a small level of processing and documentation of a scene to provide to both the defense and prosecution,” Peterson said.