Cagle calls for crime lab money - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Cagle calls for crime lab money

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MOULTRIE, GA (WALB) -

By Jennifer Emert - bio | email

Moultrie, GA (WALB) –  Crime evidence continues to pile up at Georgia crime labs. Now there's a new push to get Moultrie's lab reopened.  The lab was shut down in March when state money ran out.  Money to make repairs and buy new equipment should be available next month.

The Lt. Governor says the lab is needed, and it's not right to put the cost on local government.

A month ago the lab started accepting evidence. Since then Sheriff's across south Georgia say it's made all the difference, but one Sheriff says if the lab had never closed, he might have a murderer off the streets.

Atkinson County Sheriff David Moore is still waiting on evidence from a murder in March, Willacoochee's first in 40 years. 

"Crime labs has really been the hold up in this case moving forward because it's basically going to end up being a forensic case," said Moore.

Lt. Governor Casey Cagle understands what Moultrie's crime lab means to law enforcement in more than 25 south Georgia counties. He told them they shouldn't have to do without. "If we don't have crime labs like this in Moultrie for rural parts of our state then we're not going to be able to solve these cases and get it though the court system.

Even if it meant splitting hairs with Governor Sonny Perdue who pushed to keep the lab closed. "I just buckled down and drew a line in the sand and we were willing to take it as far as it needed to go and fortunately at the end of the day he conceded" said Cagle.

Cagle got a tour of the lab's still empty rooms. Local law enforcement is anxious to see them filled with equipment again.

"When we send an officer out on the road, that's one officer off the street, so it hurts us smaller agencies not having this crime lab," said Moultrie Police Chief Frank Lang.

"When our crime lab's closed it puts us all in jeopardy of not getting someone prosecuted, who should be prosecuted," said Grady County Sheriff Harry Young.

They all agree while education in Georgia is important putting the needed funding into public safety resources is something most counties are behind. Once the bids are let in October, construction crews hope to begin work as early as November. Law enforcement is hoping the lab will be fully functional again by spring.

The Moultrie lab is one of eight in the state and handles cases for 27 counties. In 2009, the lab handled more than 2,200 cases.

 

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