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‚ÄčIn 2004, the City of Orangeburg and Claflin University forged a partnership to improve forensic laboratory services in the hope of reducing crime in the area. Officials from both entities recognized that forensic evidence critical to solving local criminal cases was not being processed quickly enough, resulting in a dangerous backlog of services necessary for convictions. Meanwhile, offenders who were out on bond and awaiting trial had ample time to commit additional crimes.

Members of the US Senate and House secured much of the funding for a full-service forensics laboratory at Claflin University. More than $1 million was spent to renovate existing space and buy equipment for the state-of-the-art facility.

The City employs two crime scene investigators, a forensic chemist and an evidence technician for the lab. Claflin employs two full-time staff members for the lab, which today is utilized by 17 municipalities, four counties, and several state agencies. More than 4,000 cases have been processed at the lab so far, often with results returned within a week.

Residents of the region are the ultimate beneficiaries of this partnership and the new forensics facility. As the lab processes the DNA, a profile is created in a local database to generate police investigation leads and to help identify suspects. Soon, officials hope the laboratory will receive additional accreditation that will allow it to analyze more serious crimes and a greater number of cases.

Orangeburg and Claflin's partnership is the only local law enforcement and private university alliance of its kind in the United States. It has meant safety and peace of mind for many in the City of Orangeburg and beyond.

Contact John Singh at jsingh@orangeburg.sc.us or 803.533.6000.