HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WBTW) — Local officials are hoping to see quicker turnaround times for forensic evidence now that SLED has opened its new crime lab.

News13’s Maya Lockett spoke with 15th Circuit Solicitor Jimmy Richardson about how the new crime lab will benefit the prosecution office and police departments.

Richardson told News13 in 2018 that receiving results from testing forensic evidence could take six months to a year.

“It can now be over a year that you’re waiting for drug testing, and that’s important, especially when you’re talking about fentanyl, which is killing more people than — you know, than the gun violence,” he said.

SLED is responsible for testing DNA, rape kits, drug testing and ballistics for 45 South Carolina counties, including Horry County. Richardson blames the outdated technology in their previous crime lab for the backlogs.

“Now that they’ve got what they got, they went from a 20-year-old to state of the art equipment,” Richardson said.

The nearly 118,000 square foot facility houses 12 departments, including firearms, toxicology and DNA casework, which allows the department to hire additional scientists.

The facility has the capacity for 180 employees. Richardson said he hopes this will help cut back on the backlog, because there are 2-year-old cases that have not been tested yet.

“As crazy as this may sound, when we send DNA to SLED for a rape case … the only way for us to get that tested is to call and say, ‘look, this case is a high priority because it is on the main trial roster,’ then they will pull it out, put it on there and test it,” he said.

However, with the new technology, Richardson said they are hoping that is no longer the case.

Horry County is now able to share information from court administration and J. Reuben Long Detention Center directly to SLED through a portal.

Richardson said conversations have been had about Horry County getting its own crime lab, but right now it is just too expensive.

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