Iredell Co. at risk of losing crime lab; Sheriff says it is needed

by: Sarah Rosario Updated:

Loading

IREDELL COUNTY, N.C. - Iredell County is at risk of losing its crime lab if it keeps losing money, but the Sheriff's Office said it is needed.

The Iredell County Crime Lab processes evidence, analyzes drugs and fingerprints and runs blood alcohol tests, but now county commissioners are wondering if it is worth its cost.

"It has lost about $1 million and that's just a concern," said County Commissioner Renee Griffith.

It's lost that money since it opened in 2009 and some of that is taxpayer dollars.

Federal grants and drug seizures also help fund the lab.

County commissioners approved the crime lab based on a promise it would support itself and make money, but according to the county budget, it doesn't do either.

"Last year it lost $250,000. This year they're slated to lose right at $100,000," said Griffith.

Questions about the lab were raised during a fall planning session when the Sheriff's Office projected a $300,000 profit next year.

Crime Lab Director Misty Icard said the revenue is improving each year.

"Even though it's been losing for the past several years it's at a steady incline," said Icard.

She said state law mandates the lab be paid $600 for each blood alcohol test. Defendants must pay it once they are convicted, but she said judges often waive that fee which cuts into their profit.

Maj. Darren Campbell said the crime lab is necessary because it can take years to wait on results from the state.

"The mobility of our crime unit to be able get that evidence and bring it back here to analyze it is great, within five to 10 days," said Campbell.

County commissioners said for now the crime lab will stay funded through June 30, 2014, but if it loses more than $100,000 during that time commissioners said it will have to go.

"I know a decision will be reached by then. Either it will be funded for the next year or it won't," said Griffith.

Iredell County commissioners will not talk about the crime lab again until their winter planning session in February. Eyewitness News was told a decision could be made as early as May when they talk about next year's budget.