BCA seeks funding in bonding bill for Mankato facility

Oct. 24—MANKATO — The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension will be going to lawmakers this spring for a bonding bill ask to bring a facility to Mankato.

It's something BCA Supt. Drew Evans said is necessary for more room as they expand their services.

"We're out of space at our headquarters facility, and as the needs and demands for forensic testing across the state of Minnesota grow as they have significantly over the last 10 years, we need more space."

Evans said their facility headquarters in St. Paul was designed for about 360 people; currently, there are over 500 in the building.

Services available at the proposed Mankato location would include a DNA laboratory, a firearms laboratory, digital multimedia evidence, toxicology and drug testing.

He said when they look at where they're located in the state, it makes sense to look at Mankato, adding that the BCA has crime scene teams on call at their headquarters and in Bemidji.

"This would locate that third team down to southern Minnesota so our response times are much quicker."

The BCA is actively looking at potential land acquisition in the area right now and was awarded $4.5 million this past session for design work.

This year they'll seek the rest of those funds.

Evans said the exact amount still needs to be adjusted for inflation, but last year the full amount was $47.6 million.

DFL Rep. Luke Frederick, of Mankato, is among supporters of the project.

He mentioned both practical and economic benefits of having a regional facility.

"Even if you simply want to look at it from not a criminal justice perspective, if you want to look at it from an economic perspective, creating jobs ... is always good, too," he said.