Western Crime Lab Progress
Construction on a new crime lab for Western North Carolina could begin soon, helping to clear up a backlog of thousands of cases.
Heads of the state lab in Raleigh updated the law enforcement community in Waynesville, Wednesday.
Both the current and former director say the General Assembly is allocating more than 15 million dollars to build the facility in Edneyville, and all that's needed now to build it is the governor's signature. They say once forensic scientists are here, DNA and DWI analysis could begin.
"It will eliminate the tremendous number of hours that we spend; our analysts spend in traveling to courts here in Western North Carolina either from Greensboro or from Raleigh," says former director Joe John.
Ellen Pitt with Mothers Against Drunk Driving listened intently on the progress for the western crime lab planned for the Justice Academy in Edneyville. She says it's been taking too long to get blood work from drunk driving cases back from the state crime lab in Raleigh, in some cases up to two years.
"We've had cases where there have been fatalities or injuries by a person who offends again while the blood sample is waiting to be tested." She adds, "When we actually have this lab up and running and the analysts can be here in an hour and a half, I think you're going to see a big clean up in all of the court backlog."
Once ground is broken, the State Crime Lab Director, John Byrd, says the western lab could be up and running in 18 months. He says, "But we'll get the training going, get those guys so that when the building is complete we'll move in immediately."
By Rex Hodge
Follow Rex on Twitter @RexHodgeWLOS