Western North Carolina tops for state law enforcement

The mountains of Western North Carolina are home to some of the brightest law enforcement officials in the state. From Haywood County Sheriff Greg Christopher and his leadership bringing the Haywood Pathways to reality to superstar investigator Sgt. Shawn Gaddis of the Canton Police Department, there are too many names in this area to recognize on one page.

Waynesville Police Chief Bill Hollingsed is a name that sticks out among the list.

It’s his leadership and experience that brought him to the top of the list of law enforcement officials qualified for chairman of the North Carolina Criminal Justice Education and Training Standards Commission.

Hollingsed was recently elected chairman unanimously by his state peers.

The chief law enforcement agent for Waynesville is now tasked with leading a commission that sets training guidelines and standards for all law enforcement officials statewide.

It’s no easy task but Hollingsed is a leader who has a proven record.

Hollingsed has been a force and his leadership has helped get drug overdose reversal kits into the hands of local law enforcement. He’s advocated against the abuse of prescription pills. He’s also been a powerful voice in lobbying for a change in DWI laws in Raleigh.

Hollingsed is a powerful voice in Raleigh that will bring concerns of Western North Carolina back to the state house.

One of those issues that is still at hand is the massive backlog of evidence waiting to be tested at the state crime lab.

Just this last week, 30th Judicial Assistant District Attorney Jeff Jones discussed in Haywood County Superior Court the need for possibly using a private lab to test DNA in an attempted first-degree murder case because of the long wait for the state lab results.

The nearly year-old case involves a defendant accused of choking and stabbing a female victim 20 times. which whom he had a prior relationship almost a year ago.

The trial awaits DNA tests while a victim waits for her day in court and the accused sits in the Haywood County Detention Center.

Jones is working as hard as he can on moving the case along — but there’s only so much he can do.

While there’s no doubt Hollingsed will continue to use his influence to advocate for something to be done about the long wait times for lab results, lawmakers need to help the North Carolina Department of Justice, which is already working as hard as possible to come up with scarce resources to alleviate a growing problem, by giving them the resources they need.

Funds for a new lab in Western North Carolina have been budgeted, but until the facility is open, problems in delivering swift justice will continue.