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DPS to Charge Law Enforcement Agencies for Forensic Testing

4 years 1 week 3 days ago Thursday, July 20 2017 Jul 20, 2017 July 20, 2017 9:39 PM July 20, 2017 in News

WESLACO – The Texas Department of Public Safety is changing how forensic tests are paid for,

The state legislature asked the agency to fill an $11.5 million hole left in their budget using lab testing fees.

Most often, Rio Grande Valley law enforcement departments send samples to DPS when they need to forensic evidence like blood, urine, drugs or DNA.

In the past, these tests have always come at no cost to the department. But under new legislation, that is changing.

Preliminary pricing shows alcohol analyses are now priced at $75 per sample. Testing a controlled substance like marijuana, meth, heroin or cocaine is also priced at $75 per sample.

Palmview Police Department Chief Chris Barrera said they often use DPS for forensic testing. He said right now, it’s unclear how much testing the police department will be required to pay for.

“What I would need to know is whether or not they are going to start charging so we can put a line item in the budget,” he explained.

DPS told CHANNEL 5 NEWS the fee is preliminary.

In a letter to Texas Law Enforcement Executive, DPS said they’re evaluating the impact of the new law and finalizing how much everything will cost. The agency added they want to make sure investigation and prosecution of crimes are fully supported by forensic analysis.

Barrera agrees.

“When we need samples, we don’t want to turn someone away. We don’t want to not send something because there’s no money in that line item,” he said.

DPS said they’ll publish the cost model, policy and implementation guide to their website this summer.

With the new fee, DPS said they also plan to utilize state appropriations to provide each local criminal justice agency with a voucher. That voucher can be used on DPS forensic analysis services of their choice.

Right now, it’s unclear how much each voucher will be worth and if every agency will get the same amount. 

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