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State forensics cuts body transportation

By Staff
Melissa Cason
Franklin County officials are concerned about the recent decision made by the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences to stop providing transportation to and from the forensic lab for autopsy.
The cuts were mandated by the state, but the decision means local law enforcement will not assist with transporting bodies to and from the lab or work on crime scenes even though the forensics evidence is crucial to cases.
Franklin County Coroner Elzie Malone said these are essential services for every Alabama county, and Franklin County is no exception.
"I got an email from Bill Harris, the president of the Alabama Coroners Association, last Friday, and that's the first time I heard about the cuts," Malone said.
Since learning about the cuts Malone has been contacting county law enforcement and the district attorney's office.
Franklin County Sheriff Larry Plott said the cuts are going to hurt law enforcement across the board because autopsies are crucial in all homicide and death investigations.
"This puts a big burden on law enforcement because we are already short handed," Plott said.
Plott said he will express his concern to the governor's office today because these are services that should not be cut.
Unless the governor makes a decision to override the cuts, Franklin County will have no choice but to find transport bodies for autopsy.
"I'm hoping the governor will override that decision because this can't wait," Malone said. "We try to make a joint decision with officers on the scene on whether we have a homicide or possibly a homicide and then we'll decide to send the body to the lab."
Franklin County District Attorney Joey Rushing also expressed a concern about this decision to cut transportation.
"I don't know how we'd transport them to the lab," Rushing said.
"We don't have a vehicle that could be used for transportation, and we have to have autopsies in order to proceed with prosecution in homicide cases."