Senate seeks SBI, Crime Lab move
The Senate budget proposal would take the State Bureau of Investigation and its troubled Crime Lab out of the Attorney General's Dept. of Justice.Posted — Updated
A provision in the Senate budget proposal would take the State Bureau of Investigation and its troubled Crime Lab out of the Attorney General's Dept. of Justice, moving both into the new Department of Public Safety.
Senate budget writers say the move would improve public confidence in the independence of the State Crime Lab, which is currently under the authority of the state's top cop, Attorney General Roy Cooper. It's suffered from public perception that it's biased toward law enforcement. (The House budget sought to move the lab out of the Justice Department, too.)
But moving the SBI could actually mean less independence, not more.
It's the SBI's job to carry out public corruption investigations in both those branches (Easley, Poole, Black, and Wright, just in the past 4 years). Under the current system, the SBI is housed separately from other law enforcement agencies it also might have to investigate, like the State Highway Patrol. And it answers to a state executive office - the Attorney General - that's independently elected, much like the Auditor.
Would having a boss who's politically beholden to the governor and legislative leaders affect the SBI's independence? Attorney General Roy Cooper thinks so.
More from Cooper, in a written statement:
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