Officials prepare to fight closure of GBI Crime Lab

By Andrew Wittenberg  - bio | email | Twitter

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - The Columbus GBI crime lab serves 19 counties in West Georgia and an area of 500,000 people.

If the Georgia Bureau of Investigation has its way, that lab and its services would be shut down and moved to Atlanta --- an idea that has local Fraternal Order of Police President Randy Robertson furious.

"If you ask a city the size of Columbus to send all their evidence to Atlanta to be processed, you can guarantee that the jails are going to be more overcrowded than they are, that the judicial system is going to be more impacted that it is," Robertson said.

Over the next three weeks, the GBI's proposal will be debated in the state legislature.

The current budget crisis is the reason they plan to shut down the lab, but local officials say that's not a good enough reason to shut down such a valuable facility.

"They're talking about taking our lab and there are two cities north of Atlanta that are very small in population and they are going to leave theirs there," Robertson said.

Robertson is talking about two labs in north Georgia that mainly process data from Atlanta.

Trion, Georgia has a population of 2,000 people.

That lab will remain open.

Another lab in Cleveland, Georgia, population 1,900 will stay open.

That math doesn't add up to state representative Debbie Buckner.

"We do not understand why Columbus was selected. We have great turnaround times in Columbus. We have great scientists that have been recognized for doing very good work," Buckner said

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