State forensic cuts could affect county transports

Published 10:05 pm Tuesday, February 3, 2009

It hasn’t happened yet, but after state cuts in forensic science transports, Pike County could find themselves scrounging for more funds.

At the start of the year, the Alabama Department of Forensic Science cut its transport services to Montgomery, a service Pike County once received for free.

Now, Pike County Coroner Jerry Williams said the county could be faced with a tricky situation should a need arise for the county to transport a body for autopsy.

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“Up until this time, we haven’t had a case that warranted transport to forensic science, but that could happen at any time,” Williams said.

Pike County District Attorney Gary McAliley said the cuts in funds have raised serious concerns for his department.

It’s certainly of interest to the D.A.’s office because we have to prove the body was in the same condition when it was picked up as it was when its delivered to the Department of Forensic Sciences,” McAliley said.

“We have deaths all the time and questions where we need autopsies, and the D.A. is the person in the county who orders autopsies be completed.”

But, both Williams and McAliley said they are working to find ways to make these transportations before there is a local need.

This week, McAliley said he plans to visit the legislature in hopes of finding some state funding for these services.

Right now, the legal burden will be placed on the Pike County Commission should there be a transport need, McAliley said.

With an extra $16,600 in employee salaries, shortfalls in the road department and a county-debt reduction plan, there may not be much money to go around from Pike County.

Nonetheless, Williams said he thinks there would be some way to make the transport even without these additional funds.

“If the case came, I’m sure we could use a transport service from somewhere,” Williams said.