With the help of federal funding, Wake County is getting it own DNA lab to help solve local crimes.
The new laboratory will be housed in the Raleigh/Wake City-County Bureau of Identification (CCBI) and will be the first local government DNA lab in the Triangle. It will be only the second in North Carolina.
“Our criminal justice system depends on having timely, reliable information,” said Wake County Board of Commissioners Chair Matt Calabria in a news release. “By adding this state-of-the-art lab to its facility, CCBI will be able to quickly and accurately analyze the DNA evidence its crime-scene investigators find in the field, saving precious time and moving cases forward faster.”
Now, local law enforcement officers must send DNA evidence to the North Carolina State Crime Lab, where case submissions have increased 62% over the last five years, according to the news release.
CCBI will accept DNA evidence from all Wake County police departments, but not from agencies outside the county, said Leah Holdren, a Wake County spokesperson.
“However, this new lab will benefit both residents in Wake County and those in counties statewide,” she said, “as it will free up resources at the state lab, enabling them to focus on evidence from other municipalities in the queue.”
The cost of the lab is $360,000 in local money, coming from court-ordered lab fees, and $500,000 in federal money. The lab will be staffed by three employees, whose salaries will be covered by Wake County.
“It’s exciting to be part of a project that we know will do so much good for our community,” CCBI director Sam Pennica said in a release. “DNA testing has proven to be extremely accurate and has advanced to become an important 21st century forensic testing technique.”
The News & Observer,which reported on the lab when it was announced last November, noted it would need to meet international accreditation and FBI standards and could begin testing samples by the end of 2022.
Wake County also received $1 million in federal funding to help renovate the ground floor of the Wake County Office Building to build a “state of the art” Emergency Operations Center or EOC. A local government’s EOC is often used before, during and after weather-related storms, but has been used throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
This story was originally published March 23, 2022 1:44 PM.