New forensic center opens in Memphis - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

New forensic center opens in Memphis

(WMC-TV) - A new forensic center that will help investigators solve its cases is now open in Memphis.

The West Tennessee Regional Forensic Center holds 32,000 square feet of operational space.

The $13 million building is a far cry the old cramped space on Madison Avenue. The hope is that families will have quicker closure because the number of cases it can handle could double.

"The Forensic Center carries a squad of seven investigators," said Director of Investigations and Technical Services Sean Lester.

The center can serve all 20 counties west of the Tennessee River, receiving death cases from hospitals to law enforcement and nursing homes.

They even have a security system, monitored by Homeland Security, to keep an eye on every corner of the building.

"Remains are received, assigned a case number, and identification band, and then put in refrigerated storage in preparation for examination or autopsy," explained Lester.

Case turnaround will average 24 to 48 hours.

And now, bodies will be transferred in an enclosed area.

The facility offers more room, and autopsies will now be performed under negative pressure to contain infectious diseases.

Chief Medical Examiner Karen Chancellor says the facility could help close cases faster.

"The old facility had two tables. This one has six tables in the main room and then three special autopsy rooms," said Dr. Karen Chancellor.

The funding for this new forensic center comes from Shelby County and Tennessee taxpayers.

If any jurisdictions outside the area use the facility, they pay for services as they go.

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