WILMINGTON, NC – We are here today to officially announce plans to propose the transfer of the Wilmington Police Department’s Crime Lab over to the County, which will be managed by the Sheriff’s Office. This move could be official by July 1.
This announcement comes after months of discussion and an evaluation of the labs functions. The lab has provided quick turn-around blood alcohol testing for DWI cases and drug testing which in turn helps to alleviate over-crowding in our county’s jail and helps to manage and stream-line packed court dockets. Therefore we believe the appropriate place for the lab to reside is with the County.
We are still in the early phases of working out the final details which includes the handling of existing cases and the timeline when official testing under the county will begin. This action will require approval of both City and County governing boards.
In 2008, the Wilmington Police Department opened the crime lab as a model in hopes of creating a regional lab that would soon find an appropriate home – and now we have. The lab has proven to be a huge success among more than 30 agencies in the region. Throughout the years we have always faced funding challenges for the lab with limited funding from across the region and the state. The City of Wilmington has subsidized the majority of the labs annual budget for the past 11 years.
In January of this year we addressed a critical personnel issue which led us to closely review the labs operations, protocols and procedures and the possibility of moving the lab.
We applaud the efforts of our County Manager and Sheriff for recognizing the importance of keeping a nationally accredited crime lab in our region where it will continue to greatly assist all of our operations.
This transfer means that the County will oversee the daily operations of the lab and provide 60% of the funding. All lab personnel will be county employees. The City will provide 40% of the funding and house the lab in its’ current location at our Bess Street headquarters.
Our local District Attorney is in full support of the move. It’s a win – win for us all and it places the lab in the right place at the right time.