Elbow Room for Crime Solvers

Learning to analyze evidence at crime scenes used to come only with experience, but Henry Lee thinks the programs offered by the institute that bears his name at the University of New Haven can bridge the gap between classroom and practice.

"They can have a better chance to become good detectives," said Lee, the former state commissioner of public safety.

UNH is planning to begin construction this summer on a $9.4 million facility to house the Henry Lee Institute, which has outgrown the lab space it uses now.

The new building will have communications centers for consultants to help cops in the field.  Exam rooms where students study recreated crime scenes will be open to the public, as a museum.

"I always tell people that the Spy Museum in Washington is actually one of the - if not the - most heavily visited museums," said Steven Kaplan, president of UNH. "I think this is going to be a very popular museum because of the focus on forensic science in an age when people are very interested in the subject."

UNH has grown markedly in recent years, to more than three thousand full time undergraduate students.  Applications for the fall term are up 40 percent over last year.

Kaplan says other programs are cramped for space.  He envisions a new life sciences building.

"If you know anyone who has $20 million for a science facility, I can give them a place to put it," he said.

The Lee Institute building program relies on private and public contributions. Raising money has become more difficult in hard times, Kaplan said, but he believes the economy's now at a bottom.

Meanwhile, Lee is working as a consultant in several high-profile cases.  Next month he will host a global conference at the MGM Grand at Foxwoods on the links between terrorism and international crime. 

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