Police chiefs discuss issues; Edneyville full-service crime lab opens

EDNEYVILLE — N.C. Sen. Jim Davis and N.C. Attorney General Josh Stein spoke at the Laurel Ridge Country Club in Waynesville this past week at the North Carolina Association of Chiefs of Police (NCACP) gathered to hear N.C. Sen. Jim Davis and N.C. Attorney General Josh Stein break down some of the bigger issues.

The key topics of discussion were outlined in a packet with the NCACP’s positions. The packet contained the following position on the new conceal carry proposal that would allow anyone over 18 to carry a firearm out in public with no training.

“NCACP strongly opposes elimination of the safeguards of background check, training and current minimum age of 21 to be able to carry concealed,” the packet said.

N.C. Sen. Jim Davis with N.C. Attorney General Josh Stein

N.C. Sen. Jim Davis encouraged the chiefs and other law enforcement present to reach out to his office with any problems or solutions they encounter. N.C. Attorney General Josh Stein criticized the state legislature for cutting his office’s budget by $10 million. However, Stein recognized the good work the legislation designed to combat the opioid crisis.

Stein emphasized the STOP act that Davis sponsored to:

  • impose stricter prescribing limitations and tracking,
  • and the synthetic opioid control act t0 make more opioids illegal.

Like Davis, Stein also encouraged the chiefs to share solutions to the opioid crisis.

Stein also brought up the chiefs’ concern regarding the ability to recruit and retain qualified personnel. The work of protecting small towns and cities is critical. Many of the officers working there may be looking for higher salaries paid by near-by cities. Keeping experienced officers within a police force has become significantly more challenging – especially in areas where the sheriff voted in has the liberty to fire those on the force who opposed him.

Following the conference, Stein, Davis, and others joined several SBI officials, District Attorneys and legislators for the long- awaited grand opening of the region’s first full-service crime lab in Edneyville.

The North Carolina Department of Justice’s Western Regional Crime Lab facility in Edneyville is approximately twice as large as the former Asheville facility. It also adds DNA analysis to the types of forensic services available at the lab.

Forensic Scientists in latent evidence use a wide variety of traditional chemical, light sources, and image enhancement to process evidence and develop prints. Once visible, the prints are compared to known standards, as well as the AFIS database (Automated Fingerprint Identification System) for analysis. Shoe and Tire Track Analysis is also performed by trained scientists.
Drug Chemistry is a modern forensic drug analysis laboratory. Submissions follow national trends monitored by the DEA, with marijuana and cocaine making up the majority of drugs analyzed. A great number of tablets, pharmaceutical and illicit, are submitted each year. Clandestine laboratory sites remain an issue in western North Carolina, with methamphetamine as the predominate substance manufactured.

The Western Crime Laboratory serves law enforcement in North Carolina counties that are generally west of Interstate 77.