NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – The tri-county is taking a major step forward in improving DNA testing, something that could help solve high-profile crimes in our area.

A new facility that will be built off Leeds Avenue in North Charleston will help the county test for DNA when crimes take place throughout the tri-county area and get a return on those results much quicker.

“I think it’s extremely important,” said Tom Vankoughnett, director of Tri-County Biological Science Center. “We’re going to try and do our best to decrease the amount of time it takes from a request to a report. I’ve heard in some cases it may take years in this region, so we’re trying to expedite that process.”

An old county emergency pet shelter is currently located at the site, but that will be demolished before the brand-new state-of-the-art facility can be built.

“We have to select the builder, design the building, build the building, and then validate our equipment wright, policies and procedures- all of that.”

There is also a lengthy certification process, so it could be several years before the project will be complete. The approximately $10 million facility is a partnership to help identify DNA in the tri-county.

“About 3 1/2 million of that was allocated by county council another three million was pledged after the sale of an existing county building and then we have $1 million contribution commitments from Dorchester County, Berkeley County, and the state level,” said Vanknoughnett.

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In addition to getting quicker results when major crimes happen, this facility will also offer more resources for solving smaller-level crimes.

“A lot of times in the past certain crime classes have kind of gone underserved and the state was overrun with cases- so we can kind of focus on the small guys better than large agencies can.”

Leaders hope to have the new facility built and fully operational within five years.