CONWAY, SC (WBTW)- South Carolina law makers are giving SLED 54 million dollars for a new crime lab. SLED said they need the new crime lab because of a severe space problem which is slowing down investigations.
Horry County Solicitor Jimmy Richardson tells me they’re delayed 6 months to a year. SLED does several different types of testing but the solicitor says DNA and drug testing is where there’s the most back up.
“Without that testing the whole system grinds to a halt,” said Solicitor Jimmy Richardson.
DNA and drug testing are crucial to the prosecutors office. They can’t move forward with a case until they have it.
“Unless that drug has been tested and a professional can come in and say that is in fact heroin, you’d be a fool to plead guilty. Unless an expert can say that is in fact your DNA. Usually there is no ability to work on those cases,” said Solicitor Richardson.
Every time someone is arrested for possession of drugs that drug must be tested. Horry County Police department has their own drug testing lab. Other agencies in the area, like Myrtle Beach Police can send their drug testing there for 75 dollars a test, but most of the time they send it off to SLED for free. SLED has to be particular about how much evidence they take to be tested.
“They only take 5 items on a case and that causes our police department to have to really look at what they’re sending up there. They also only take 25 items total per police dept per day or trip,” said Richardson.
Solicitor Jimmy Richardson said that creates a back log at police stations with items sitting in departments before they can even make it to sled. Time is of the essence for the solicitors office as well they have to have cases disposed of in a year. They were at an 80 percent rate of finishing cases in a year but with the back log issue that’s dropped down to 75 percent.
“The legislators saw how necessary it is. You basically got one police agency responsible for 90 percent of the testing that goes on for law enforcement,” said Richardson.
News 13 reached out to SLED to see what they said their testing turn around time is and when construction on the new lab could begin, and at the time of this report we have yet to hear back.
As far as Horry county getting it’s own crime lab to take some pressure of SLED Solicitor Jimmy Richardson said there’s just not the funds for that.