Western Crime Lab
The Western Regional Laboratory is located in Asheville and is the first satellite laboratory in the state, established in the early 1980s. The building consists of 9,800 square feet of laboratory space and is staffed by 16 full-time analysts and support personnel who serve state, federal, and local law enforcement in western North Carolina.
The facility began its service with five employees offering drug analysis and latent print analysis. Recent expansion efforts increased building size and staff abilities to offer in addition to Latent Print Analysis and Drug Analysis: Clandestine Laboratory Response, Shoe and Tire Track Analysis, Firearms Analysis, and Tool Mark Analysis.
The Latent Evidence Section uses a wide variety of traditional chemical, light sources, and image enhancement to process evidence and develop prints. Once visible, the prints are compared to known standards, as well as the AFIS database (Automated Fingerprint Identification System) for analysis. Shoe and Tire Track Analysis is performed by trained personnel.
The Drug Chemistry Section is a modern forensic drug analysis laboratory. Submissions follow national trends monitored by the DEA, with marijuana and cocaine making up the majority of drugs analyzed. A great number of tablets, pharmaceutical and illicit, are submitted each year. Clandestine laboratory sites remain an issue in western North Carolina, methamphetamine as the predominate substance manufactured.
Firearms Analysis and Tool Mark Analysis consists of forensic examination of firearms, projectiles, shell casings, and trajectory pattern analysis, as well as analysis of tools and the marks made by them on objects.
The Western Crime Laboratory serves law enforcement in 32 western counties: Alexander, Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Buncombe, Burke, Cabarrus, Caldwell, Catawba, Cherokee, Clay,Cleveland, Gaston, Graham, Haywood, Henderson, Iredell, Jackson, Lincoln, Macon, Madison, McDowell, Mecklenburg, Mitchell, Polk, Rowan, Rutherford, Swain, Transylvania, Watauga, Wilkes, and Yancey.
Western Regional Crime Lab: Forensic Scientist Manager Joseph D. Reavis