Law enforcement plead for help in funding the Department of Forensic Sciences

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - Let's start with the hard truth.

Department of Forensic Sciences Director Michael Sparks says, "We will not be able to maintain our services at the level that we currently provide them."

So which services will go?

Sparks lists them. "The first two things that would be on there would be the Huntsville morgue and also fire debris analysis statewide."

We stopped by the morgue, but couldn't go inside. They had an autopsy in progress. They do about 450 a year there. If cuts go through, they'll shut it down, and coroners will have to take bodies all the way to Montgomery for autopsy.

Sparks notes, "The Montgomery facility services 27 counties in the middle part of the state. So part of their southernmost territory would then be shifted to the Mobile facility."

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You can tell that law enforcement officers are uneasy about the prospect of adding all that wait time to their most critical investigations.

They showed up in droves because they're worried. A fter all, Sparks adds, "Instead of the state being divided into thirds, we would just have two operating morgues for the entire state." That could mean a lot of back log.

Not to mention, Sparks tells us, "If the state fire marshal collects samples, we do the analysis from those samples. If we stop that service, then the state fire marshal would be looking for either a fee-for-service laboratory that would be local or he would be looking at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms."

But it's not just investigators that will feel the resource crunch.

Sparks points out, "It does negatively affect loved ones, family members, friends. How much longer is it going to take for us to be able to receive that body?"

He adds, there's only so much they can rush it. "Time is very important to us, but it can't be the first priority when we're working a case."

That's a big part of why law enforcement showed up to support the department.

"Forensics is so important. It's crucial to all the law enforcement in the state of Alabama," said Limestone County Sheriff Mike Blakely.

He believes victims' families shouldn't become victims of budget cuts too. "If you ever have someone that's been a victim of a crime or had a family member that's been a victim of a homicide, to them it's very important. We want to make sure we can have the people that commit those type of crimes locked up , where they're not back out on the street," said Sheriff Blakely.

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