Forensics Dept. gets $145K grant for DART

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - The Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences is receiving a $145,000 grant to help increase the speed taken to identify illegal substances. The grant comes from the U.S. Dept. of Justice.

The money will be spent on a piece of equipment called a Direct Analysis in Real Time instrument, or DART for short.  The tool will be used at the department's Montgomery Regional Laboratory and will process evidence collected from cases in central and south Alabama.

Another similar device already processes central and north Alabama cases and is located in the department's Birmingham area lab.

Officials say the equipment has the capacity to analyze about 1,000 pieces of evidence per month and will help reduce backlogs. The new tool will be especially helpful in the fight against "designer drugs" like synthetic marijuana now that Alabama considers "Spice" illegal.

Governor Robert Bentley's office made the grant announcement Tuesday morning and said the Alabama Dept. of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) will administer the funds.

"Scientific analysis of evidence by the Department of Forensic Sciences often determines whether a suspect is found guilty or set free," Gov. Bentley said. "This equipment will help the department analyze drug evidence quickly and accurately."

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