The Rhode Island State Crime Laboratory (RISCL) is housed on the second and basement floors of Fogarty Hall, just a short walk from the Memorial Union. The building was constructed in 1964 and named after US Congressman John E. Fogarty. Originally built as an additional building for the Colleges of Pharmacy and Nursing, it became the site of the laboratory (originally housed in Pastore Hall) in 1971. It was designated by law as the State Crime Laboratory in 1978.
The laboratory operates independently of any individual law enforcement agency. Laboratory staff examines evidence from about 800 cases each year (approximately 4,000 items) from RI police and fire departments, the FBI and the ATF. Specializing in latent prints, trace evidence, and firearms, the RISCL even hosted the evaluation of the rifle that was purportedly used to assassinate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The RISCL also offers education for law enforcement officers in basic scientific crime scene investigation techniques, as well as proper treatment and documentation of evidence.
Dennis Hilliard, who will be inducted into the Rhode Island Criminal Justice Hall of Fame this year, has been the Director of the RISCL since 1995. According to Mr. Hilliard, the laboratory in Fogarty Hall is nothing like the labs that are portrayed in shows like NCIS and CSI. The laboratory is accredited and several staff members serve on regional and national forensic committees.
For now, the laboratory continues to grow with plans to expand and potentially be moved to a new Public Safety building currently in the works. Though an on campus attraction in its own right, the reach of the RISCL extends far into the statewide and national justice systems. We at URI should be proud to be the home of such an important facility.
For more information about The Rhode Island State Crime Laboratory and the services provided, visit the following websites: