What do fifty-five sheriff's departments, hundreds of city police departments, the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, Federal investigators and W.V. State Police all have in common? They all send evidence from their cases to the West Virginia State Police Crime Lab. The overwhelming demand is creating a backlog in the lab.
"They have quite an extensive workload but they do an outstanding job," explains Sgt. Michael Baylous with the West Virginia State Police. 'It's a rather difficult situation. They're the only lab here and they handle cases from all different agencies."
Wood County Sheriff Jeff Sandy says his department currently has numerous items at the state lab in Charleston and the workload there directly impacts the turn around time in local investigations.
"Without question, the amount of time in which they (State Police) have our evidence directly impacts the time line on our investigations," Sheriff Sandy says. "But, the most important aspect is: 'is it done right? Is it done correctly?'"
Sgt. Baylous agrees. He says when cases often come with high stakes, it's better to focus on making sure the evidence is processes and handled correctly rather than worry about how long its been at the lab.
"How terrible would that be if we focused only on the turn around time and getting back a quick response when we're talking- in a lot of cases- about the liberty and the freedom of the person that is involved in that case," Sgt. Baylous adds. "So, that's why we have a moral obligation to make sure this is done in the appropriate manor."