AG: State crime labs are understaffed, affecting unsolved cases

POSTED: 2:15 PM Mar 11 2013   UPDATED: 12:19 AM Mar 05 2013
NEW BERN, CRAVEN COUNTY -

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper said Monday that the S.B.I's state crime labs are understaffed, causing a big backup.

At a conference for crime prevention, Cooper said the crime labs are backed up with thousands of pieces of evidence. Workers there are asking for more funding and an extra facility from the General Assembly.

"When you ask your everyday tax payer how they want their taxes invested, they expect strong law enforcement," Cooper said. "They expect a well-funded lab in order to do DNA, toxicology, to help solve crimes."

Currently, there are 12 toxicologists working for the SBI in North Carolina. Cooper said that number should be tripled.

"In the past four years, DNA submissions have increased 64 percent," Cooper said. "Toxicology submissions have increased 34 percent."

The SBI is seeking to add toxicology and DNA analysts to two crime labs in the state, separated from the main crime lab in Raleigh. This would free up law enforcement scientists to take on more cases.

New Bern Police Chief Toussaint Summers said those extra services are essential to fight crime.

"Our detectives have done a good job in putting the pieces together, but you want to make sure you have the best case possible," Chief Summers said. "The support of the lab is one thing that we need to make sure we have the best case possible."