By: Emma Wheeler | WCTV Eyewitness News
July 12, 2019
VALDOSTA, Ga. (WCTV) -- The Valdosta-Lowndes Regional Crime Lab is taking testing in to their own hands.
The crime lab is now certified in blood alcohol analysis. Up until this accreditation, all blood alcohol testing in the state had to be done by the Georgia Bureau of Investigations.
Crime lab officials said it took a rigorous 18 months of training to reach this certification. The lab is now the only local laboratory in the state certified to do this type of testing, commonly used for DUI's.
Laboratory Director Becky Parker-Hall said this certification has been a goal since the lab was established in 2010. While this is an important resource for the Valdosta Police Department, they also expect to receive tests from jurisdictions all across South Georgia.
"Valdosta having a laboratory established here, in relatively a small town compared to the rest of the state, says a lot," Parker-Hall said. "It says that we are dedicated to servicing our community and the surrounding communities, and providing the best services we can provide."
Up until now, police said getting these results back from GBI can take several months. Now those same results could take just a matter of weeks.
Valdosta Chief of Police Leslie Manahan said that means quicker prosecutions and closed cases.
"Having the ability in our community to process evidence for any type of cases saves everybody in the long run. Whether it's someone who's being held in jail and the evidence is that they did not do something, or somebody that's been in jail and we're continuing to wait on evidence to be processed for them to be sentenced," Manahan said. "The quicker prosecution that we're getting, that way we're not leaving people in jail longer and having to pay those fines, etc. We're able to get people in front of the judge and held accountable, and sentenced quicker than we have been in the past."
Crime lab officials said the tests just went live at the beginning of this month, so they have not received any tests yet.
Police officials expect surrounding jurisdictions to see the same results from this certification, of quicker prosecutions and sentencing.