The Wilmington Police Department has a new piece of equipment helps detect blood alcohol content more quickly. Before they got their new machine, the WPD had to send blood samples to Raleigh to get tested. Getting results could take months, but now the WPD crime lab can get what they need in just days. The Wilmington Police Department can now process and analyze blood samples directly from their crime lab instead of shipping the samples to the State Bureau of Investigation in Raleigh thanks to a new technology called a gas chromatograph/mass spectrometer, or "G.C." "I basically researched what in Wilmington, what are some of the important things we need help with, we do have a drunk driving problem in this city, so being able to get our DWI results more quickly would be nice, so we can get those cases to trial,” said forensic chemist Bethany Pridgen. Here's how it works. Pridgen prepares the blood samples to be analyzed in the GC. The GC heats the blood samples to create vapors, then a needle takes a sample of the vapors and injects it into the instrument where the alcohol is analyzed and a result is determined. Then just to be safe - the process is repeated. The technology will likely help prosecute cases faster in court. "What we're seeing is that while these bad guys are out on bail, they're committing, and re-offending time and time and time again before their first case is ever heard. So we think this is going to have an impact on that, that we're going to be able to get these cases in front of the judge much quicker, rather than having to wait for the analysis to come back,” said Chief Ralph Evangelous. An additional federal grant will give the Wilmington Police Department capability to test controlled substances. That technology should be in place by the end of 2010. The machine cost $100,000. Wilmington City Council approved the WPD's request for the money last year. The Wilmington Police Department is now one of only two local agencies in the state with the ability to perform these tests. The other one is in Charlotte.
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