By Wendy Osher
The new $4.5 million Maui Police Department Forensic Facility will be fully operational before the end of the year.
The facility, located on Wili Pa Loop in Wailku, fulfills a longstanding need for more room to store bodies and conduct post-mortem examinations on the Valley Isle.
The facility was dedicated on December 28, 2010, but the Police Department only recently received a Certificate of Occupancy from the County of Maui.
With 180-220 post-mortem examinations conducted on Maui each year, forensic pathologists and medical examiners “run out of space all the time,” according to an interview we conducted earlier this year with Assistant Chief Larry Hudson.
“The cramped area of the existing morgue, due to its size, has outgrown its ability to adequately accommodate deceased individuals,” said Assistant Chief Lawrence K. Hudson.
The new facility, county officials say, has the capacity to hold a maximum of 70 bodies in two separate walk-in refrigerators. The current location at the Maui Memorial Medical Center only has four holding drawers for the deceased.
In addition to the forensic storage and examination area, the facility will also be home to the Police Department’s Crime Lab, as well as training classrooms.
“Deceased victims of crime have no voice, except the evidence they carry with them,” said Hudson. For this reason, he said, “It is imperative that the evidence be protected and collected in a sanitized environment; something the new facility is fully capable of providing. The remains of our loved ones should be handled with the utmost respect and dignity,” he said.
“This was a much needed facility here for Maui County,” said Mayor Alan Arakawa. “I applaud the efforts of the all the individuals and various departments involved in bringing the project to completion.” Arakawa added “In our culture, the deceased should be handled with dignity and respect and this facility will provide just that.”