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New crime lab to speed up dmg, alcohol testing
BY TODD LUCK
A new local crime lab is hoping to cut down how long
local authorities wait for test results from months or years,
down to just days.
Integrated Forensic Laborites (IFL) opened its new lab
in the Alexander R. Beaty Public Safety Training and
Support Center on Friday, May 29. The lab performs drug
and blood alcohol tests for the Winston-Salem Police
Department (WSPD). Currently law enforcement agen
cies around the state rely on the State Crime Lab for foren
sic testing and are experiencing long delays.
"With the State Crime Lab, there's a backlog of cases;
we've had cases down there for several years that still
haven't been tested," said Police Chief Barry Rountree.
"This is a way we can improve our agency, improve our
service delivery to the citizens of Winston-Salem and also
improve the judicial process for individuals awaiting trial."
Rountree said that the wait time on testing causes
major delays in criminal trials, extending jail time for
some as they await for their day in court. In addition to
drug and alcohol testing, the WSPD will also have the
option to have tests involving things like DNA, toxicology
and firearm forensics performed though IFL's network of
The city has a five-year contract with IFL for $ 108,000
a year. That cost is expected to be reduced by the amount
of additional law enforcement agencies that contract the
lab for services.
IFL operates and manages the lab, which the company
installed itself. IFL also operates three labs in Texas,
where it is headquartered. This month it opened a lab in
Cumberland County, which will serve all of that county's
law enforcement agencies.
IFL is accredited by the American Society of Crime
Laboratory Directors/Laboratory Accreditation Board,
which is common for state, local and federal crime labs
around the country.
In 2013, IFL was acquired by National Medical
Services (NMS) Labs, a diagnostic and public safety clin
ical testing company whose main lab in Willow Grove,
Pennsylvania, has more than 200 employees and handles
600 crime lab cases a month. NMS Vice President of
Operations Marlow Hicks, who was on hand at the open
ing, said there will be three employees working in the lab.
He said turnaround on tests should be within five days.
"The lab is here to service the community. We want to
provide a high quality service to support your judicial sys
tem and police agency," he said. "Fast, accurate turn
around time is important for the DA [district attorney] to
prosecute their cases"
After the lab's ribbon cutting, law enforcement and
city officials like Mayor Allen Joines and City Council
Photo by Todd Luck
(L-R) NMS Vice President of Operations Marlow Hicks, IFL Techinical Leader Lori Knops, Mayor Allen
Joines, City Council Members James Taylor and Jeff Macintosh, City Manger Lee Garrity and WSPD Chief
Barry Rountree cut the ribbon on the new crime lab.
Member James Taylor, who chairs the Public Safety
Committee, were given tours of the lab. The public and
media where not allowed inside, but a video of the inside
was provided to the media by the City.
The high volume of cases sent to the State Crime Lab
is only one cause for the state testing backlog. A 2009 U.S.
Supreme Court decision requires state lab technicians to
appear in court if the defense attorney requests it, on the
principle that defendants must be able to confront their
accusers. This has taken many lab techs away from testing.
? Another issue is high attrition, as many lab techs leave
for higher paying jobs, a problem state lawmakers hope is
helped by the raises given in the budget recently passed by
the N.C. House of Representatives.
An IFL lab made headlines in Texas when an employ
ee was fired in 2014 for mistakes in the documentation of
samples, including incorrectly recording the names of 350
blood samples. The lab, which has been under contract
since 2013 to analyze about 4,000 blood samples a year
for Bexar County, conducted an audit on which cases
where affected and disclosed the incident to the Texas
Forensic Science Commission. In March, the San Antonio
Express reported Bexar County DA Nico Lahood, who
was newly elected last November, stopped sending sam
ples to the lab for testing.
SPECIAL TO THE CHRONICLE
The Housing Authority of Winston-Salem will be hon
ored with an Award of Merit by the National Association
of Housing and Redevelopment Officials (NAHRO) dur
ing their upcoming summer conference in Austin, Texas.
The recently constructed Oaks At Tenth apartment
community is being recognized for its innovation in new
The Oaks At Tenth is the first affordable housing loca
tion of its kind in Winston-Salem. It is located at 795
Johnson Circle, near the intersection of Tenth Street and
Cleveland Avenue (formerly known as Johnson Square).
The location is considered part of the first phase of the
Cleveland Avenue Initiative plan, an effort to revitalize the
surrounding 130 acre community as a mixed income,
The Step Up
housing initiative is
designed to pro
cy and ultimately
ency on public
location helps to
bridge the gap
public housing and
market rate living.
A work require
ment of 30 hours
per week exisjts for
all able-bodied adult residents. Tenants who are unable to
maintain the work requirement will have the option of
residing in more traditional, affordable housing locations
managed by the Housing Authority.
As program participants become more economically
stable, they will move upward and out in order to provide
more opportunities for others waiting for a chance to
achieve their dreams of home ownership.
The apartment complex features 50 units fully
equipped with modem energy efficient appliances. One,
two and three bedroom apartments are available with sin
gle level and multi level floor plans. The new community
is convenient to the heart of downtown, restaurants, retail
stores and cultural epicenter.
Housing Authority Chief Executive Officer, Larry C.
Woods, extends his personal thanks to the Board of
Commissioners, staff, and the residents of the East Ward
community for their tireless support and participation in
the Cleveland Avenue Neighborhood Transformation ini
"It is by your good works that this project has become
another crown jewel in the City of Winston-Salem,"
Woods said. "This national award is a clear and positive
indication that the community transformation is moving in
the right direction."
Walter W. Pitt, of Bell, Davis and Pitt, currently serves
as the Chairman of the Board of Commissioners for the
Housing Authority of Winston-Salem, and said he was
grateful for everyone involved with the project.
"I am proud of the diligence and efforts of the Housing
Authority, our community partners and residents that
helped make this step-up housing program successful,"
Pitt said. "This award is reflective of the level of quality
and excellence we strive for in the revitalization of the
Cleveland Avenue corridor. We will continue to collabo
rate with others to make a positive impact in Winston
Salem and beyond for many years to come."
<fIt is by your good
works that this
project has become
another crown jewel in
the City of
- Larry C. Woods
Chief Executive Officer,,
luoe 3 - June 9,2015
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