CHATHAM CO., GA (WTOC) - Georgia Governor Nathan Deal signed the 2018 budget Monday. Funds for a new GBI crime lab in Chatham County are in that budget.
"I believe this is a good budget. I believe that it attempts to fulfill the needs of the citizens of Georgia and has a forward-looking approach," said Gov. Deal.
The new lab could mean swifter justice for victims around the Coastal Empire. Their current building is old and too small for the work they do.
They said this new facility is good for the GBI, good for local law enforcement agencies, and good for the city of Pooler. Make no mistake about it though, it's business as usual at the current GBI Coastal Regional Crime Lab in Savannah.
"The facility that we're in now is busting at the seams with staff and spaces to do those services," said Ross W. Butler Jr., director of the crime lab.
Butler said he and other staff members have been looking forward to this day for years. The official go-ahead for the new lab is welcomed news.
"When we found out a month, month and a half ago that in fact, it was going to happen we were very excited," said Butler.
The regional lab is one of six around Georgia. It serves 30 counties in the state in some capacity. The new location in Pooler will allow them to double their staff, streamline their processes and get evidence back to local agencies in a more timely manner.
"We're expecting this area to grow by 1 to 1.5 million by 2030 so we need to prepare for that now so that we have the adequate space and facility and personnel in place," said Butler.
In turn, it could mean evidence will go from crimes scenes to courtrooms much more quickly.
"To see Pooler, the sleepy little town, as a place they want to put down roots is just amazing to me," said Pam Southard, the director of Pooler's Chamber of Commerce.
The city is also excited about it. The fringe benefits will allow everyone nearby to capitalize.
"People that work at this location have to eat. They're going to want to shop so what better way to bring it all together," said Southard.
"We're very excited it. It's something we've been hoping for for many years, and now it is within our sight,' said Butler.
The new facility will add about 30 new jobs when it opens. They hope to break ground out on Isaac Laroche Drive in July. The building should be finished and operational by early 2019.