COLUMBIA, S.C. (WSPA) — Thursday afternoon, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) held a dedication ceremony for their new forensics services laboratory in Columbia.

The state-of-the-art facility is a full-service crime lab where evidence gathered by law enforcement throughout South Carolina is processed. Construction on the lab began in 2020 and was finished in 2022.

“I know this is a major commitment on behalf of the state. I promised each member of the General Assembly, past and present, that all of us here at SLED will be good stewards of that commitment,” said SLED chief Mark Keel.

Officials said the project cost $62 million to complete. The lab houses 12 departments including firearms, toxicology and DNA casework. Officials said this facility sets law enforcement up in South Carolina for the future.

“This laboratory will also position SLED to better address emerging threats such as increasing gun violence, proliferation of fentanyl and as well as provide better tracking and analysis of sexual assaults,” said Maj. Todd Hughey, lab director.

The 117,672 square-foot facility is larger than SLED’s old lab, which opened in 1990 down the road at SLED’s Headquarters. Staff said they were using nearly every inch of the old facility.

With a larger lab, they’ll be able to hire more scientists. According to SLED, the facility has the capacity for 180 employees.

“We here at SLED can have the best of everything. The best equipment. The best facilities. But if we don’t have great people, we have nothing,” said Keel.

In the last year, SLED processed more than 70,000 pieces of evidence for more than 21,000 cases.