ANDOVER - St. Cloud has earmarked $94,000 in next year's budget, which they hope will help them solve crimes faster. The city plans to join the Tri-County Crime Lab, which includes Sherburne, Wright, and Anoka Counties.

Wright County Sheriff Joe Hagerty says the lab has been a big help to his department.

Last year we received DNA certification, which means we have full access to the FBI's DNA database called CODIS. This has enabled us to solve crimes in a very quick manner with touch DNA evidence.

The Tri-County Crime Lab essentially does the same work as the Minnesota BCA, but can turn the results around in a more timely manner. He says one example is stolen vehicle crimes.

Either it's pieces of skin falling off the body, or sweat from the hands on the steering wheel. We'll process those steering wheels now. We'll take DNA samples, or swab them, send them to our lab. You probably wouldn't be shocked that a lot of people who steal cars have committed felonies in the past.

The cost to participate in the program is based on population. Wright County funds 23-percent of the lab, or $370,000 a year.

Fifteen people work in the lab, which is in Andover.

Hagerty says the Tri-County Crime Lab was started in 2007, when the State Legislature gave them $6 million to get the program going.

The Wright County Board is meeting on October 6th to decide if they want to continue participation in the program.

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