Forensic flap: DPS to start charging local law enforcement for lab work

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The Texas Department of Public Safety announced it will start charging  police agencies for forensic work conducted in state crime labs, a move that surprised and angered prosecutors across the state who were caught unprepared to budget for those critical services. 

DPS director Steven McCraw issued a statement late Monday saying that beginning Sept. 1, the DPS crime labs will begin charging police agencies fees for a wide range of crucial forensic services including alcohol, drug, DNA and toxicology testing.

McCraw said the Texas Legislature passed a law requiring the DPS to collect up to $11.5 million in fees for forensic analysis, in order to make up for a budget cut that left the agency with $63 million to operate the labs over the next two years. DPS is working to develop a voucher system to help pay for the fees, something McCraw’s release said would be announced later.

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Shannon Edmonds, the head of governmental relations for the Texas District and County Attorney Association in Austin,  said a number of prosecutors were angry that that DPS did not disclose the fees as county leaders are finalizing  their budgets for fiscal years that begin in September or October

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“They’re pretty steamed,” Edmonds said. “Texas prosecutors have always enjoyed a good working relationship with the DPS, but right now some of them are feeling a little blindsided by this news.” 

The DPS fees will hit rural counties the hardest, since urban counties have their own crime labs or have the resources to pay to outsource testing, Edmonds said. 

The DPS  analysis fees are:

Alcohol: $75 per sample.

Controlled Substances: $75 per sample

Quantitative testing for controlled substances: $15o per sample.

DNA : $550 per case.

Toxicology: $150 per case.

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