Legislature cuts funding to DPS crime lab system - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Legislature cuts funding to DPS crime lab system

With this change, local law enforcement agencies will begin to pay for each analysis report they submit to DPS. (Source: KLTV) With this change, local law enforcement agencies will begin to pay for each analysis report they submit to DPS. (Source: KLTV)
In order to prosecute a case where the defendant pleads not guilty, prosecutors need analyzed substances as hard evidence. (Source: KLTV) In order to prosecute a case where the defendant pleads not guilty, prosecutors need analyzed substances as hard evidence. (Source: KLTV)
The change comes at a time when cities across the state are already well on their way to preparing budgets for the next fiscal year. (Source: KLTV) The change comes at a time when cities across the state are already well on their way to preparing budgets for the next fiscal year. (Source: KLTV)
According to a press release on the DPS website, the change is to fund an $11.5 million shortfall. (Source: KLTV) According to a press release on the DPS website, the change is to fund an $11.5 million shortfall. (Source: KLTV)
BULLARD, TX (KLTV) -

The Department of Public Safety's crime lab system is set for an $11.5 million shortfall for the 2018-2019 fiscal year. According to the department's website, general appropriations from the legislature will provide $63 million of the $74.5 million it costs to run the lab every year.

To make up for this loss, DPS will begin to charge local law enforcement agencies for analysis reports.

"It's not an option," Bullard Police Captain Jeff Bragg said.

Bragg was in his office Friday evening when he opened an email from the Department of Public Safety. In the email, Bragg says, was an outline of the expected changes.

Law enforcement agencies will begin to pay $75 for each alcohol and controlled-substance analysis they request. They will pay $150 to analyze the quantity of a substance. They will pay $150 for a toxicology analysis and $550 for DNA analysis.

"If we arrest somebody on felony possession of a narcotic or controlled substance, that evidence we collect has to be processed and taken to a DPS lab," Captain Bragg said.

That's why when you read about an initial drug arrest it says, "the suspect was arrested for possession of suspected methamphetamine," instead of, "the suspect was arrested for possession of methamphetamine." The substance can't be deemed a narcotic until it undergoes lab testing. The substance can't be used as hard evidence in court until it undergoes testing.

"We're going to have to look at this and see how it will affect our budget," Captain Bragg said.

Like other cities, Bullard is currently planning its budget for the next fiscal year. This change with DPS goes into effect September 1.

"So it's crunch time," he said. "You need this information in order to prosecute cases. We [need] to figure out what's going to take place ... and adjust what we have currently."

In a statement to KLTV, the Department of Public Safety added that they were not consulted by the Legislature about the appropriations.

"As with all legislation passed by our state leaders, we diligently began the process of reviewing this new legislative requirement," DPS spokesperson Tom Vinger said. "As soon as we were able to determine the necessary course by the department, we developed a plan to implement it."

KLTV reached out to several other offices in East Texas on Monday: Arp Police, Tyler Police, Troup Police, the Smith County Sheriff's Office and the Smith County District Attorney. All of them say they are actively looking at this change and learning what they need to do on their end to comply.

 Copyright 2017 KLTV. All rights reserved. 

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