ATLANTA (WSAV) — The Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) is speaking out about the backlog in autopsy and death investigation cases at the crime lab. GBI said with hundreds of bodies coming into the crime lab they simply do not have enough pathologists to process the cases timely.
“It is consistent with what’s happening nationally and every state has experienced an increase in violence,” said John Melvin, Interim GBI Director.
Georgia is competing with several states like New York and Illinois to hire forensic pathologists with the governor and state legislature approving a measure to match pay for such positions to increase recruitment.
Besides autopsy investigations, GBI said child pornography cases have soared nearly 40% due to virtual learning.
“The incidence of reports has gone from 14 to 19,000 in cyber crimes and limited to child pornography. We saw a significant spike at home and on their laptops.”
“I have a daughter and closely monitor what she does on her laptop outside her school work,” a GBI spokesperson said.
GBI also said during the pandemic, gangs grew by 15% to 80,000 members and said crime is fueled by increased drug activity.
“Two-thirds of our autopsies are overdose deaths and those are a steep increase because of fentanyl crisis that the state of Georgia is experiencing,” Melvin said. “I am not personally aware of any particular region that’s worse. It is a systematic and statewide issue that the Governor and GBI are working to address.”
GBI crime agents say they are most often called to investigate officer-involved shootings — which are set to increase by 25% by the end of the year.
GBI is a request-only agency, so are called upon by local agencies and said they typically include murders, sexual assault and fraud.
This week Gov. Brian Kemp appointed Melvin as the interim director until Mike Register, the new director, is sworn in.