Raleigh, N.C. — As House budget writers put together their proposed 2017-18 spending plan, Attorney General Josh Stein would like them to include an extra $1.5 million for the State Crime Lab to replace old equipment.
The lab tests thousands of pieces of evidence every year to help law enforcement and prosecutors catch suspects and convict them. Stein said Tuesday that the lab is in good shape in terms of hiring and retaining forensic analysts, but it's lagging behind on technology.
"Some of our machinery, and these are intricate machines – they cost hundreds of thousands dollars – are 16, 17, 18 years old. The guidelines recommend you get new machinery about every five years," he said.
New equipment would help analysts process evidence more quickly and cut into the backlog at the crime lab, Stein said.
The lab has been making headway even without the technology, lab director John Byrd said, cutting the backlog from about 52,000 cases three years ago to about 9,000.
A second lab in the western part of the state, which is expected to open in the coming months, also will help with the backlog, officials said.