City and county government and all law enforcement agencies in the region should fully support the Valdosta-Lowndes Regional Crime Lab. 

Lowndes County Sheriff Chris Prine is on the record. 

Challenger Ashley Paulk is on the record.

Both have pledged their support for, and the need to fully fund, the nationally accredited Valdosta-Lowndes Regional Crime Lab. 

Any talk from county officials about defunding this important tool for solving crime in South Georgia is irresponsible. 

We agree with Sheriff Prine when he said, “The crime lab is nationally accredited and the return for Lowndes County’s investment is far greater than expected.”

There was no equivocation in the sheriff’s support. 

In no uncertain terms the county’s top law enforcement official said, “The Valdosta-Lowndes Regional Crime Lab has had the unwavering support of the Sheriff’s Office since I became sheriff in 2009. Since it was opened, the Sheriff’s Office has ensured some level of personnel or financial support. 

“Further, the Sheriff’s Office has intentionally worked with the City of Valdosta to budget annually, according to the memorandum of agreement. For additional support, the Sheriff’s Office signs on for collaborative federal and state grants.”

He was even more clear when he said, “...not only will a commitment to funding continue, but as needed, the Sheriff’s Office will continue to invest in this valuable asset for the citizens of Lowndes County.”

We agree with Sheriff Prine’s assessment.

If there is any doubt about Paulk’s view of the importance of the crime lab if he were to win the election, he said flatly, “I will continue to fund the crime lab.” 

Paulk said the crime lab “has worked very well and is a valuable asset to fighting crime.”

County leaders should not be posturing about using other crime labs, delaying results in criminal cases and destabilizing this important resource for our region.

The value and importance of having a local crime lab should be assessed by law enforcement and the criminal justice system, not by politicians and policy makers. 

The sheriff is on the record understanding the importance of and fully supporting the funding for the state-of-the-art crime lab. Valdosta Chief of Police Brian Childress is the most passionate advocate of a fully functioning and fully funded crime lab.

The crime lab should in no way be viewed as a city versus county debating point. 

It benefits all law enforcement agencies and the entire local criminal justice system. 

Data indicates that county criminal investigations account for about 35 percent of all cases processed at the lab. 

Recently, county investigations have accounted for almost half of cases being processed at the lab.

Funding should more closely approximate use.

Incremental increases in the amount of funding by agencies using the crime lab are reasonable, as the number of cases and the cost of processing each case increases. 

The crime lab is simply about exonerating innocent people, some of whom are sitting in jail at taxpayer’s expense, and convicting criminals — getting them off the streets, keeping us all more safe. 

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