Florence County Sheriff’s Office explores expanding on-site lab

One Pee Dee law enforcement agency wants to speed up investigations.
One Pee Dee law enforcement agency wants to speed up investigations.

FLORENCE, SC (WBTW) – One Pee Dee law enforcement agency wants to speed up investigations.

“It is definitely a goal,” said Maj. Mike Nunn with the Florence County Sheriff’s Office.

That goal is getting funding to build a DNA and ballistics laboratory in Florence County, which Maj. Nunn said is a natural next step in helping to solve crimes in the Pee Dee.

“We believe that would enhance our ability to investigate and bring cases to conclusion,” Nunn said.

Right now, Florence County deputies are limited in the kinds of lab work they can do locally.

“We can analyze drugs and can also do some arson things as well,” explained Nunn.

But any major investigations–especially those involving ballistics or DNA evidence–have to be sent to the state law enforcement division in Columbia.

“The deputy has to drive it to SLED, maintain the chain of custody, leave it with SLED, come back, get the report from SLED, drive back to SLED pick it up, bring it back and put it in our evidence room,” said Nunn.

Nunn said the extra time spent transferring important evidence may take months to get results and testimony, which often delays court proceedings.

“The case has to wait until the SLED chemist or whoever performed the analysis can come testify,” Nunn explained. “They’re just spread too thin.”

That’s why Nunn said more than ever it is time to invest in a local laboratory.

“If we had that same capability here in house, in Florence County, it’s not too difficult to see how much time that would eliminate in the process,” he said.

Nunn said so far there hasn’t been any funding set aside to build a lab, but expanding the kind of investigations Florence County can do is in everyone’s best interest.

“SLED does a great job, and they have a great lab. But they’re busy too,” said Nunn. “It’s to everybody’s benefit.”