Governor Deal, Officials break ground on new, much needed GBI Crime Lab

POOLER, GA (WSAV) – The nearly 30 lab techs and examiners joined Georgia Governor Nathan Deal moving dirt for the official groundbreaking of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Coastal Crime Lab. The new lab is set to replace the current one that has sat on Mohawk Street for more than 30 years.

The lab will move from the Southside to Pooler and will dramatically increase in size.It will also have new services aimed at helping local and state law enforcement process evidence faster, ultimately reducing the time is takes to solve crimes.

“I know how important this new facility, this crime lab, is going to be for this area,” says GBI Director Vernon Keenan.

The crime lab will cost more than $34 million to build and has been appropriated for by the state budget passed for FY 2018.

“We have a continuing obligation to protect the citizens of our state and that means we have to have the best facilities, the best equipment and the best people,” says the Governor addressing the crowd for the groundbreaking.

Larger funds for the GBI will address expanding facilities across the state and increasing positions and pay. The new development comes after years of issues at the current southside location that has grown from ten employees to nearly thirty in the last decade or so according to the lab’s director.

“It’ll have a huge impact on the local GBI, we’ve basically busted at the seems at the facility we have now,” says coastal crime lab director Ross Butler.

The crime lab will add a new medical examiner as well as a toxicology service. Previously that was done in Augusta or in Atlanta and took days to weeks in order to process according to Butler.

“It will allow us to get our reports quicker and what’s so important about that is not just in the legal system, but for the families themselves. They’re waiting for answers and they won’t get the answer until we’ve been able to do what we need to do,” says GBI Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Jonathon Eisenstat.

Across the board, staff will see pay raises. The construction of the new facility off of Pooler Parkway is expected to be completed by the end of 2018.

“It’s a necessary move, and we will be able to double the personnel for the next thirty to forty years.”

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