Dothan Forensic Science

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Since the state crime lab opened in 1994, it has been very, very busy.

The backlog of cases at the state lab means 60-percent of Alabama's crimes still remain unsolved waiting for test results.

That backlog has a dramatic effect on all police agencies in the state, including the Dothan Police Department.

Local police now have two things on their side, federal funding for the state and a new position here locally.

The state of Alabama has just received $2 million in federal grants for its crime labs which gives it money to pay for equipment that could help reduce the number of unsolved cases.

Chief Powell says the Dothan Police Department sends about 90 percent of their cases to the state lab. So he says the funding going to the state lab should cause a trickle-down effect and will help with backlogged cases in the Dothan Police Department

Another thing that will help the Dothan Police Department is the creation of a position it has never had before, a crime scene technician.

In the past, the department has used sworn officers or called on a state expert to gather evidence at the crime scene.

20th Circuit District Attorney says, "We have in the state of Alabama crime scene experts that can be called from Montgomery to come down. But once again, they have to drive hours, miles, fatigue becomes an issue. So if we have them in-house, it's a better way."

The Dothan City Commission granted funding for the salaried position.

Then the personnel board approved it earlier this week.

The city commission has also approved for new crime scene technology to be purchased.

And since the Dothan Police Department has just created this new position, it is also qualified to receive federal and state grants.

Chief John Powell is hoping to begin recruiting for the new crime scene technician as soon as possible.