Police departments hit with unexpected DPS lab fees

DPS Crime lab
DPS Crime lab (KXAN Photo)

GEORGETOWN, Texas (KXAN) — Assistant Chief Cory Tchida says he was caught off guard after learning Thursday the Georgetown Police Department will now have to pay for lab work sent to the Department of Public Safety.

“This was not something that was on our radar, the letter we received yesterday was really the first notice we were aware of, of the upcoming changes,” explains Tchida.

DPS will start charging lab fees in September, a result of the legislature requiring the agency recover $11.5 million of its crime lab budget from those requesting the services. Now local departments are scrambling to figure out what this means for them.

“Most municipalities are well into their budget process, and you’re getting to the point of finalizing it,” explains Tchida. “So it’s very difficult, if not impossible, to add something like this to your budget, especially when we don’t have a firm grasp of what we’d be adding.”

The department is in the process of pulling data to see how many tests they sent to DPS each year, to get some sort of baseline of what these fees could cost the department.

“We’ll figure it out, we always do. We have an obligation to serve the citizens and that’s what we’ll end up doing,” says Tchida.

Under the new charges, blood or urine samples from DWI arrests will cost $75 each.Toxicology to test for drugs will cost double that. Testing drugs themselves will cost $75-$150. DNA analysis will cost $550 per case.

For the Pflugerville Police Department, which made 71 blood draws last year, the department would have had to pay more than $5,300. So far this year they have had 22 blood draws, which would cost $1,200.

The new fees go into effect Sept. 1.

 

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