Wanted: Regional Crime Lab

Currently, evidence for crimes in Brazos County in need of a medical examiners' touch is sent to Conroe. If a Crime Lab's services are wanted, the city of Austin gets the call.

While Bryan Police Chief Mike Strope says those services are very good, they aren't timely.

"They're extremely busy, and it's kind of like taking a number," he said. "And when you've got a homicide and a variety of suspects, sometimes waiting three, four, five months is unreasonable."

Strope says the days of Brazos County being rural and quiet are long gone, and with growing violent crime in his and neighboring communities, the time is now to revisit the idea of a medical examiner and a crime lab regionally.

He envisions partnering with local law enforcement and even area universities in the creation of the facilities. Strope says the first week in any investigation is critical, and that a local crime lab and examiner would significantly reduce investigation time.

While he recognizes finding the dollars to make these things a reality would be hard, it's an effort that needs to be made for residents.

"I think such programs as CSI and others have brought to the forefront, in the public's mind, that physical evidence is the key to criminal investigations of the future," Strope said. "I think there's an expectation that law enforcement meet that expectation and utilize physical evidence."

Other local law enforcement officials hope they can eventually get those capabilities, but Sheriff Chris Kirk says some hurdles need to be jumped to get a project that big off the ground.

"Certainly, in developing a crime lab to the level of supporting a medical examiner, we would have to have certified labs, and there are state standards that we have to follow," Kirk said. "It certainly would require a good sustaining funding source. We would have to open it up to a regional area that could support that type of endeavor."


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