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Funding for a new crime lab became political, after a democratic party chairman called repulican opposition "ridiculous."

Funding for a new crime lab became a hot-button issue in Cincinnati, after Democratic Party chairman, Tim Burke, called republican opposition “ridiculous,” in an interview with Local 12 news.

In an open letter, Burke said the new crime lab was “a critical part of ensuring justice convicts the guilty and equally important, exonerates the innocent.” He alleged the “overcrowded and out of date” facility jeopardizes the safety of its employees, and the accuracy of its results.

County Commissioner Greg Hartmann, a republican, backed away from comments last week that a modern crime lab amounted to a “luxury item” and that, by law, coroners are not required to run crime labs, only morgues.

“I’d rather keep the crime lab here,” he told Local 12. “Can we afford it?” He also said having a local crime lab is “critically important,” but the county should look at all possible options for funding, including building and operating a joint facility with the Attorney General.

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Burke's letter also accused Hartman of political sabotage, claiming the only reasonable objection Hartmann could have to the construction of a state-of-the-art morgue and crime lab facility is that the county coroner, Dr. Lakshmi Sammarco, is a democrat.

Sammarco also feuded with Hartmann, last week, suggesting he take a first-hand tour of the current facility in a 1960s building to see how luxurious it was, and asked what exactly Hartmann meant by the term, luxury item: “As in maybe his fancy cars that are maybe a luxury?” she told Cincinnati.com.

Sammarco, and her supporters, a group called “Keep Hamilton County Safe,” have created a website, keephamiltoncountysafe.org, which makes the case for a new crime lab in Mt. Airy at an old hospital facility donated to the county that could be purchased outright for $1, according to Cincinnati.com. The website claims: “The County received the best bargain since Manhattan was bought in 1626.”

The Keep Hamilton County Safe group fear that losing the crime lab would make the community more vulnerable to criminals, especially with rising heroin use in central Ohio, and make Cincinnati the only major city without its own crime lab, according to its website.

A decision to either renovate or relocate the crime lab to the Mt. Airy facility, is expected in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, have your say. Do you think crime laboratory facilities should be subject to political theater? Leave us your thoughts in the comment section below.

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