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Justice Department to break ground on new crime lab

EDNEYVILLE — North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper and the N.C. Department of Justice will break ground on the new Western Regional Crime Laboratory on Tuesday at the Larry T. Justus Western Justice Academy near the gymnasium.

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Cooper, State Crime Laboratory Director John Byrd and Western Regional Crime Laboratory Manager Joe Reavis will host the groundbreaking ceremony. Legislators, local government officials, law enforcement officers and criminal justice officials have been invited to attend.
The new Western Regional Crime Laboratory will be roughly twice as large as the current crime laboratory facility in Asheville and is expected to open in 2017. It will house more forensic scientists analyzing more types of evidence for criminal cases from Western North Carolina. A larger crime laboratory facility with more scientists means cases will be able to be worked more quickly, as scientists will spend less time on the road traveling to testify in court and more time in the laboratory working cases, the Justice Department said.
At the request of Cooper and the North Carolina Department of Justice, the General Assembly allocated planning resources for the new facility in 2013 and provided more than $15 million for construction in the 2014 session.

The Western Regional Crime Laboratory analyzes evidence from law enforcement agencies in counties generally west of Interstate 77 in North Carolina.