The Georgia Bureau of Investigation's crime lab in Columbus is scheduled to close in March, but law enforcement officials are hoping the state will have a change of heart.
To save money the GBI is eliminating three of its seven labs in Moultrie, Summerville, and Columbus. Evidence from crimes in Columbus will be driven to labs in Atlanta or Macon. That trip could take an officer two hours.
Columbus Police Chief, R. Tom Boren says it's a serious mistake to close the lab, which serves 19 counties in the western part of the state. He says having access to things like ballistics testing can help solve crimes quickly.
"A day means a lot when you're investigating a case and there may me a short period for apprehending a suspect before they leave this city,"
The GBI says three of the Columbus lab's employees will retire, while the rest will be transferred to other facilities. Officials say the closings are necessary in order to meet their budget.