Dougherty Co. committee, officials talk possible crime lab plans

Dougherty Co. committee, officials talk possible crime lab plans
Dougherty County's Government Affairs met Monday about a potential partnership with Albany State University for a crime lab. (Source: WALB)

ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - It’s been five years since Dougherty County’s Government Affairs Committee met. It’s a subcommittee of the Dougherty County Board of Commissioners. that focuses on specific inner governmental issues.

This time, they met Monday to discuss the potential partnership of Dougherty County with Albany State University (ASU) for a crime lab.

During Monday’s meeting, members discussed the probability of adding a crime lab to the morgue.

Dougherty County Commissioner Gloria Gaines said adding a crime lab is a complicated matter as it’s not just simply adding space to a building.

Dougherty County Commissioner Gloria Gaines said adding a crime lab is a complicated matter as it’s not just simply adding space to a building.
Dougherty County Commissioner Gloria Gaines said adding a crime lab is a complicated matter as it’s not just simply adding space to a building. (Source: WALB)

Dougherty County Commissioners decided to keep the construction of the morgue and crime lab separate. However, they plan to look for a location with enough space for a crime lab in the future.

“Albany State came to us and said this is our long-term dream and we’d like you to build space in your morgue so that Albany State is able to operate parts of their forensic science program out of our morgue,” said Gaines.

Many commissioners said keeping them separate will ensure both are done properly.

Greg Edwards, Dougherty County district attorney, right, agreed with keeping the crime lab and morgue separate.
Greg Edwards, Dougherty County district attorney, right, agreed with keeping the crime lab and morgue separate. (Source: WALB)

District Attorney Greg Edwards agreed.

“It’d be too much of delay and it wouldn’t be adequate if you try to do it without planning,” said, Edwards.

He said the most important part of this crime lab is security.

“Security and integrity of any evidence has to be spot on because if evidence deteriorates or is tampered with, it would be no good even if it were collected,” said Edwards.

Coroner Michael Fowler said many of the morgues and crime labs he’s visited have been close or connected with law enforcement.

With nearly $140,000 budgeted only for the morgue, he questioned where funding for the crime lab would come from.

“I doubt Albany State is going to take their equipment they got and excellent program out there, take their machines and everything out and put it in the building they’re talking about building. They’re not going to do that. Also, who’s going to be certified to run that machine,” said Fowler.

Dougherty County Coroner Micahel Fowler said many of the morgues and crime labs he’s visited have been close or connected with law enforcement.
Dougherty County Coroner Micahel Fowler said many of the morgues and crime labs he’s visited have been close or connected with law enforcement. (Source: WALB)

Edwards said some other important aspects are sufficient space for parking and payment for employees.

“Your average crime lab tech they go for a low $36,000 to a high of $100,000 without a PHD,” said Edwards.

Fowler said he hopes this is a project they can do in the future.

“I hope that we can find a place. I love the education part, I just don’t see how it’s going to happen in our time.” said Fowler.

For now, they are moving forward with the morgue and looking for locations with sufficient space for a crime lab.

Gaines said they will be continuing their conversations with ASU for a crime lab.

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