Officer: Lab backups can delay indictments
Scott Clinger, Columbus Division of Police community liaison officer for one of the precincts that covers the Northland area, sought last week to allay some of the frustrations of local Block Watch coordinators who are concerned that a suspect swept up in a recent narcotics unit raid is already back in his Clinton Estates home.
It's a frustration that cops feel, as well, Clinger said, but one civilians and officers alike must accept because it's the way the system works.
"We arrest them," Clinger said. "We take the drugs and the guns and things."
But the investigation continues: Are they drugs? Do the weapons actually work, and if so have they been used in other crimes?
These things can only be determined by technicians at the city's crime lab, according to Clinger.
And thereby hangs the tale.
The backup for conducting such tests is about six months, and that's if more urgent cases with a higher priority don't crop up, he indicated.
If the drugs turn out to be drugs and the guns are functioning, then a felony indictment can be sought through a grand jury, Clinger said. That also takes time.
Because officers have only a limited number of days in which to bring charges against an individual or have them be dismissed, suspects are released while the tests and indictments takes place, according to Clinger. If all that falls together, then a warrant is issued and the person indicted is sought out to be taken into custody.
"That's why you see a lot of people back out," Clinger said. "A lot of your neighbors are asking these questions. These are the reasons why.
"The police want them off the street as much as you do."