Manpower shortage in crime lab hinders drug cases, Atlanta police chief says

The Atlanta Police chief says a shortage of manpower in the crime lab handcuffs drug cases.

Investigators will often spend months checking out a drug house.

Many of those illegal businesses will put a variety of narcotics on display for a buyer.

Chief Darin Schierbaum says even though his officers may seize heroin, cocaine, fentanyl and marijuana, the state lab tells local agencies to select one type from the seizure for testing.

The reason, the chief told Atlanta City Council members during a briefing, is that the lab is short-staffed.

"Although at some risk our officers do their jobs," Schierbaum said. "They cannot turn over everything they have to the (Fulton County) D.A."

That frustrates the chief. The net impact is that some drug sellers will not have to face a judge with the full weight of the evidence against them.

Schierbaum is asking the council to approve funding, so he can hire and train his own lab technicians.