Raleigh, N.C. — Tuesday a big boost was announced for public safety in Wake County, as Congressmen David Price and Deborah Ross announced the county is getting $1.5 million dollars.
State and county leaders said the funding would help with two projects aimed at improving public safety and cutting down on a backlog of untested DNA kits.
Improving wait times for those seeking justice
When we talk about how slowly the wheels of the criminal justice system turn, the delays often stem from prosecutors’ waiting for DNA tests to be completed.
“Our state has struggled to process all of the evidence, especially for survivors of sexual assault,” says Representative Deborah Ross.
District Attorney Lorrin Freeman says Wake County having its own DNA testing lab is going to help them locate suspects, get justice for victims, and move cases through the system faster.
“It also will help us exonerate people who don’t need to be charged,” says Freeman.
Currently, Wake County prosecutors wait up to nine months to get results.
Construction is already underway for the 950-square-foot lab, which will be housed in the Raleigh/Wake City-County Bureau of Identification on Hammond Road.
“This is a huge asset to our community,” says Freeman.
‘World class’ facilities for emergency personnel
During the height of the pandemic, the Wake County emergency management team was crammed into a tiny windowless basement in the county building downtown. Emergency personnel from several different entities were all housed in one, small room in the Waverly F. Akins office building.
Because of the new funding, that’s about to change. They are getting a brand new space.
A million dollars will go to help with creating a new emergency operations center.
“This is a worthy and long-overdue investment in public safety,” says Ross. “There’s no better use of our tax dollars than saving lives.”
Wake County’s emergency operations center is moving out of the cramped, antiquated basement it has occupied for years — and into a newly renovated much larger area in the county building outfitted with the latest technology.
“We want to have a world class facility for those charged with our safety,” says Matt Calabria, county commissioner. “We have got to protect the people who protect us. We have to empower them to do their jobs to the best of their ability.”
The projects are expected to be complete in 2023.