WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) – Attorney General Roy Cooper is in Wilmington this week to brainstorm new ways to fight crime, prescription pill abuse, and crime lab back log.
Law enforcement agencies from across the state gathered Tuesday morning for the North Carolina Sheriff's Association meeting at the Holiday Inn Resort in Wrightsville Beach.
SBI agents, deputies and officers will spend time talking about ways to cut down on underage drinking, gang violence and prescription pill abuse.
"80% of parents talk to their kids about illegal drugs and marijuana and alcohol," said Cooper. "20% of parents talk to their kids about abuse of prescription drugs. This is a problem that is exploding in our high schools."
They will also discuss building a new crime lab to cut back on evidence backlog. The longer someone stays in jail before a trial, the more money it costs the taxpayers.
"All of these sheriffs and police chiefs at this conference are asking for better pay for the scientists and agents who work these cases and for more of them, because the evidence continues to grow," explained Cooper.
Cooper said there is enough money to build the new lab and hopes to increase the salary for SBI scientists to prevent frequent turnover.
"We're also taking dramatic steps to out- source some of the toxicology because it's inexcusable," he added. "We've got to get this evidence back to local law enforcement."
Officials with the ABC commission also discussed ways to cut back on underage drinking in the state, while keeping the money rolling in.
While alcohol sales add millions of dollars to the state's budget, the ABC commission chairman said it cost the state $1.5 billion in connection to issues with underage drinking.
In an effort to control the issue, the ABC commission is cracking down on people who are selling to minors.
Almost $900,000 in fines were given to people with ABC permits who broke the rules in 2013.
The fines have increased to $2,000 for the first offense; to $4,000 for a second offense; and third time they pull the permit.
The ABC commission plans to ask for $3 million to start an initiative to get schools and parents talking about the underage drinking problem.
They envision the program to be similar to no-smoking campaigns.
The meeting will conclude Wednesday.
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