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Forensic scientists push for levy to keep busy Lake County Crime Lab open

Posted at 6:54 PM, Apr 26, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-26 18:57:41-04

Forensic scientists at the Lake County Crime Lab are the busiest they've ever been.

The lab tests evidence for 22 police departments, and synthetic drug cases and fentanyl testing have doubled in the last four years, keeping lab technicians busy.

The lab also tests DNA and blood samples to help police arrest rapists, robbers, killers and other criminals.

"A safe cracker was bending over a safe in a hot room and he dropped one drop of sweat on top of the safe and we were able to extract that DNA, run it through the database and we found the person," said Lake County Prosecutor Charles Coulson.

Now, the lab is in danger of closing it's doors because it needs a new tax levy in order to keep operating, and it hasn't had a levy on the ballot in 19 years.

The proposed levy, Issue 4, would cost the owner of a $100,000 house $14 per year. It will appear on the May 8th ballot.

"If this crime lab had to close it would be devastating to law enforcement in Lake County, because they would not get answers to their evidence and some evidence wouldn't get tested," said Lake County Crime Lab Director Linda Erdei.

"If we don't get this levy passed, then I have to shut the crime lab down and evidence will go untested and the criminals won't be charged," Coulson said.

That could allow criminals to stay on the streets and commit more crimes. County cases would have to be sent to the state for testing, and it would take months to get results.

"Crime labs are indispensable for solving crimes. Jury's expect us to have scientific evidence," Coulson said.

"I hope the levy will pass and it's very important, because then we would have funding, test all the evidence that comes in, including crimes in the local county area, which is really important to keep crime at a low level," Erdei said.

If Issue 4 passes, it would keep the crime lab open for another 15 years.