WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- During a visit to Wilmington today, Attorney General Roy Cooper discussed building a regional crime lab in southeastern North Carolina.
District Attorney Ben David is heading up the effort he says will help with the current backlog at the State Bureau of Investigation lab.
"It's about working smarter in a tough economic time, preserving public safety and making sure that if we can exonerate the innocent or prosecute the guilty with this vital evidence, we know that at the earliest stage possible, instead of only learning about it months and sometimes even years later," David said.
David presented the idea of a regional crime lab to state legislators, members of law enforcement and Cooper Friday.
"We can put analysts closer to the counties down here to make sure the cases move through the system quicker and people get justice quicker," Cooper said.
Having Cooper's support is important to David. The DA said funding for a regional lab will have to come from the state, but the cost will be worth the time and money saved in the long run.
David said a regional crime lab would also cut court backlogs. The state is paying for suspects to sit in jail while they wait for lab results to come back before they can be tried.
"It's gonna be a little ways off, but you have to constantly think visionary, even in a tough economic time," David said. "This is something that just makes sense. It has for years, and with the growing importance of science in the law, we need to make sure that we are doing everything we can to stay abreast of those changes."
David said it could be months before we actually see a regional crime lab here in New Hanover County, but he's glad the conversation has started.