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New State Crime Lab director appointed

Release date: 5/28/2014

John Byrd brings 20 years of forensic experience to the post

Raleigh: John A. Byrd will serve as the new director of the North Carolina State Crime Laboratory, Attorney General Roy Cooper announced today.

“Quality forensic analysis is more important than ever for solving crimes and ensuring justice,” Cooper said. “I expect John Byrd to make sure that North Carolina’s Crime Lab continues to meet the highest standards and use the latest science to pinpoint criminals and clear suspects.”

Byrd was selected Crime Lab director following a national search and will begin his new position June 2.

Byrd is currently a forensic scientist manager at the Crime Lab with 20 years of experience in forensic biology (DNA analysis and DNA Database), latent evidence (fingerprint, palm print, shoe and tire track analysis), and digital evidence (computers, cell phones, audio, and video analysis).  He is a Certified Latent Print Examiner (CLPE) with the International Association for Identification.  Highlights of his tenure at the Crime Lab include overseeing the merger of the digital and latent evidence sections, installing robotics for faster DNA analysis, reducing processing time for forensic biology cases by 56 percent, and splitting the forensic biology section from the DNA database section. 

The State Crime Lab analyzes crime scene evidence including digital evidence, drugs, DNA, firearms, fingerprints, hair and fibers.  Expert analysis by Crime Lab scientists can identify suspects and help exonerate the innocent.   

The Crime Lab operates a main facility in Raleigh and satellite labs in Asheville and Greensboro that provide forensic analysis free of charge to District Attorneys, sheriffs, police and other law enforcement agencies. The 124 analysts at the Crime Lab worked more than 44,000 cases during the 2012-2013 fiscal year.

Byrd succeeds Joseph R. John, a retired appellate and trial court judge with 25 years of experience on the bench who served as acting and then permanent director of the Crime Lab for three and a half years.

In addition to supervising day-to-day lab operations, John headed a legal review and made significant improvements to ensure confidence in the Crime Lab’s work, including accreditation under stringent new international standards.  John will continue to work with the Crime Lab as a legal consultant.

“It has been a great privilege to work with the talented, intelligent and dedicated men and women of the State Crime Laboratory,” Judge John said. “I am extremely proud of the resolute, positive path we have traveled together since October, 2010, and I look forward to following the strong leadership of Director Byrd as that journey continues.”

Byrd will work closely with the Forensic Science Advisory Board, a group of scientists and forensic experts who meet quarterly to review the lab’s methods and make recommendations.

“John Byrd is a true public servant who will be able to continue the positive changes at the State Crime Lab,” said Kermit B. Channell, II, chairman of the board and Executive Director of the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory.  “His tenure at the Lab and in the National Guard give him the experience needed to be a strong and encouraging leader for North Carolina’s forensic scientists.”

In addition to his work at the Crime Lab, Byrd is an Army Brigadier General in the North Carolina National Guard who deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.  He currently serves as Assistant Adjutant General of the North Carolina National Guard.  Prior to joining the Crime Lab in 1994, he taught Biology in the Franklin County public schools.

A graduate of Campbell University with a Bachelor of Science in biology, Byrd also studied at the U.S. Army War College where he received a master’s degree in strategic studies.

Byrd is a native of North Carolina and lives in Spring Hope with his wife and three daughters.  He is active in his community, including serving as a deacon and director of music at his church.

  Noelle Talley, (919) 716-6413