First On WSFA 12 News: DFS to cut transportation of bodies, counties left hanging

Montgomery, Ala. (WSFA) -- They're there when the unthinkable happens, ready to help move the investigation forward.

Now, however, those ominous white vans marked, "Forensic Sciences" will stay in a parking lot as the state looks to cut costs.

"Our department has always furnished it for the state, and always has, but it's not a mandate that's required by the Constitution of the agency to perform," explained Michael Sparks, Director of the Department of Forensic Sciences.

DFS needs to cut 10% from their budget--about $1.4 million.

Transporting bodies--or decedents as they're called--accounts for nearly 1/3 of that downsize.

"If we don't haul bodies, if we curtail any kind of traveling with state vehicles, we'll be able to come up with the remaining $400,000," Sparks said.

Though local coroners realize DFS is just trying to trim a large amount of money from their budget, they say living without those complimentary services is going to be tough.

"I personally don't have a morgue in my county," explained Bill Harris, Lee County's coroner and head of the Alabama Coroners Association.

"It's something that we're going to have to look at on a big picture basis to try to see what we can do to try to remedy it until we can get the appropriate funding," he said.

Meanwhile, state officials work to keep personnel on board while cutbacks continue.

"Anything inside our buildings, we'll still be able to pursue forward, as long as we don't lose any other funding," Sparks explained.

Coroners have until January 19th.  That's when DFS will take their vans off the road, and counties will be responsible for transporting decedents.