Budget cuts force changes at Department of Forensic Sciences

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Budget cuts will force the state to close three satellite crime labs. The Department of Forensic Sciences also will no longer process crime scene evidence.  Law enforcement officials across the state said they were concerned about the cuts.

Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones said the Department of Forensic Sciences is a valuable tool in helping to bring criminals to justice.

"Their analysis of evidence that we seize at crime scenes is crucial to us identifying perpetrators linking them to the crime and presenting a complete case file to the district attorney for prosecution," Jones said.

The department is headquartered in Auburn.  The lab there will stay open, but the agency is closing labs in Florence, Calhoun County and Dothan.  It will move those employees to other labs in the state.  While Lee County has officers who can process crime scene evidence, smaller agencies do not.  So the state's cuts could have more of an impact.

"Ultimately it will end up being another hit to our capabilities and abilities to provide effective and efficient law enforcement, public safety services to the citizens that we serve," Jones said.

Jones also said any further cuts could have a major impact on the victims of crime.

'If that's the case, we're going to have victims that simply are going to have to wait a lot longer for a case to come to court and have justice served," Jones said.

Montgomery Police Chief Kevin Murphy said the changes at the department mean law enforcement will have to do more with less.

"We'll still be able to solve cases.  Obviously with the budget cuts and setbacks, it will mean some cases will take longer to get evidence back," Murphy said.  "I believe we're going to make it work, and maybe some strategic planning that we haven't used before."

The changes are set to take effect later this year.

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