DPS backs down from plan to charge agencies for crime lab services

FILE - DPS Crime lab in Austin. (KXAN File Photo)
FILE - DPS Crime lab in Austin. (KXAN File Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Following a request from the governor of Texas, the Department of Public Safety has withdrawn its plan to charge law enforcement agencies a fee for forensic analysis of evidence.

In a statement Friday, DPS says legislative leadership agreed with Gov. Greg Abbott’s decision. The department says they will continue to provide the services to local agencies at no cost.

The governor asked DPS Director Steven McCraw to retract his July 20 letter, which put local agencies on notice that in the future they would need to pay a fee for crime lab services.

The DPS crime lab was appropriated $74.7 million in the last biennium. During this year’s legislative session, the department’s crime lab budget was set at $63 million for FY 2018-19. To make up for the $11.5 million budget shortfall, DPS planned to start charging fees starting Sept. 1.

Gov. Abbott addressed the shortfall in his letter to the DPS director: “Under no circumstances will I allow the 13 crime labs that DPS operates across the state to be underfunded.”

The governor said he believed it was premature to charge a fee.

DPS was initially planning to charge the following:

  • Alcohol analysis: $75 per sample (blood/urine samples)
  • Controlled Substances: $75 per sample analyzed; Quantitation will be $150 per sample (determining what the substance is)
  • DNA: $550 per case
  • Toxicology analysis: $150 per sample

Last year, the Austin Police Department had DPS testing at least 20 samples every month due to its DNA lab closing.

Read the governor’s full letter to the DPS director here.

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