by James Swierzbin
More money and more man power, that's what Rhode Island's State Crime Lab needs to keep up with an increase in gun crimes, across the state.
The head of the lab is trying to get that word out, quickly.
Dennis Hilliard's lab is the only one in the state that handles in-depth forensic analysis.
Although there hasn't been a problem in the more than 15-years he's been in charge, Hilliard is concerned about the effect a drastic increase in caseloads is having.
The lab has only two forensic examiners who are able to examine firearms evidence and the amount of evidence to examine is growing.
"30-40 percent of cases have to do with firearms or firearms violations." said Hilliard.
Last year Hilliard's office had to handle more than 800-total cases.
It's a record number, that's likely to be bested this year, and it's a number that worries Hilliard.
"Once we get to a number where my examiners can't keep up and we start having to delay cases, that's going to be an issue." said Hilliard.
The lab's biggest customer is the Providence Police Department, and they realize the kind of stress and strain, the lab's staff is facing
"We know that they've got a huge caseload and we're just one customer." said Providence Police Major Keith Tucker.
Tucker, like many investigators around the state, knows just how important the work the lab does can be, to making a case winnable in court.
"It's very important because physical evidence that's seized at a crime scene and linked to people or other events can really aid us in solving a crime." said Major Tucker.
If the caseload keeps increasing, without more manpower and money being added to the crime lab, its director fears that his hard working staff might make mistakes and errors, as they trying to keep up.
"It's an undo influence on them, they need to do their work and they need to do it correctly." said Hilliard.
Hilliard says that he'll be asking for several hundred thousand dollars in increases to his budget from the General Assembly this coming year, to try and make sure that his office can keep up with demand.
But he's worried with money being so tight around the state, that he might not get it.