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CSI North Central Florida May Be Getting A Little Help From the Legislature. Sheriff Hunter Makes His Pitch

Miami Sky Line with headline: North Central Florida, Not Exactly CSI Miami
Photo: Elvis Vasquez via Pexels | Columbia County Observer graphic

COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL – Sheriff’s Crime Scene/Evidence building is morphing into a regional facility. On Monday morning, December 5, Columbia County Sheriff Mark Hunter made his pitch for a regional CSI facility to Columbia County’s Legislative Delegation, Senator Jennifer Bradley, and Representative Chuck Brannan.

Representative Brannan chaired this year’s Delegation. The Chair alternates from year to year. He invited Sheriff Hunter to the microphone.

After some pleasantries, the Sheriff got right down to it, "The County's gonna be representin' some monies that we've been wantin' for a crime scene; it's a evidentiary crime scene and maintenance facility. We've been tryin' to get this project together for about 11 years now…."

Sheriff Mark Hunter
Columbia County Sheriff Mark Hunter addresses the Delegation on Monday morning.

Sheriff Hunter explained that the County had set aside “$2 million [taxpayer funding] for the project. The County was looking for another $980,000. The Sheriff had not discussed this publicly at the County, and no documents are available that show what this $980k will buy.

Sheriff Hunter told the Delegation: “I want you to understand the importance of it. Up here in rural Florida, as you all know, these other counties that are constrained as well don't have all the technologies or the assets whatever they have certain crime scenes. We have gone out and assisted other agencies with what we do have in place now. This will help enhance that, and as we move forward, we won't be as dependent on the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.”

Sheriff Hunter explained that people watching television think everything can be solved in 48 hours. Sheriff Hunter said, "That's TV." He added that the Sheriff's Office needs a lot of technology.

Sheriff Hunter took a broad brush approach moving forward:  “We owe it to our rural area up here to have those assets available… I think we can do a better job. The money would be very well advocated for that, and we could assist those other counties on short notification.”

Senator Bradley was sold, “Thank you for your advocacy for this project. It will be, and if we can work this through the process, for our rural counties to be able to have access to that technology early, immediately after a crime, and to be able to have all that information. And it's not just Columbia County, it's the whole region. I think it would be a really important addition for our law enforcement to have up here.”

Sheriff Hunter spoke about the continuing certifications needed to run a crime lab and said, "The commission has already committed to me that they were going to do this."

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