GBI outsources lab cases - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

GBI outsources lab cases

April 18, 2006

Valdosta - Because of budget cuts and a lack of people interested in the career field, the Georgia Bureau of Investigations' crime labs are understaffed and buried in casework. But the state may have found a solution to that problem. They're outsourcing thousands of cases to out of state labs for testing.

Detectives at the Lowndes County Sheriff's Office can process some evidence at their small, in house crime lab, but for more serious cases, they call on the G.B.I. crime lab. "We depend on them for all DNA cases, and testing for drugs other than marijuana," said Lt. Wanda Edwards.

Right now, state crime labs are handling between 150 and 200 cases for Lowndes County, and the results don't typically come quick. "Probably around three months," said Edwards.

"If you ask for a drug analysis, like cocaine, you're looking at three to six months easy," said Capt. Brian Childress.

But that should be changing soon with the state's plan to outsource some cases to labs in other states. "I'm glad to see the outsourcing because they're snowed under," said Edwards.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation has eight labs across the state and as of four months ago, they were buried under more than 7,000 cases. They've even been forced to deny some agencies service because of the backlog. "We had one case where we weren't quiet sure the death was natural and our detective thought there was a question mark there that required an autopsy, and we were denied that by the medical examiner for the G.B.I.," said Childress.

But now, with help from out of state crime labs, results will come back quicker. "The longer you wait for evidence, the colder the trail gets," said Edwards.

And these detectives will have the facts they need to put criminals where they belong.

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