The Texas Department of Public Safety is notifying local law enforcement agencies across the state Thursday afternoon that it will begin charging for forensic analysis at its crime labs in six weeks, a service that has long been provided for free.
Local law enforcement will now have to pay for testing done on controlled substances, toxicology, DNA evidence, and biological specimens to determine the presence of alcohol.
DNA testing will cost cities and counties $550 per test. Toxicology tests, such as for DWI enforcement and homicide cases, will cost $150. Alcohol and controlled substance analysis will cost $75 per test.
The fees are expected to generate $11,540,852 for the state.
State lawmakers approved the change in the state budget. The new fees begin on September 1.
Police departments in North Texas, which use the state crime labs, said they have not yet heard of the new costs and are unsure if they will be an amount easily absorbed or whether they will have to ask taxpayers for more money.
In a letter today to law enforcement executives, DPS said it “is currently in the process of finalizing a cost model for each forensic discipline listed above. Our goal is to develop a model that will minimize the cost for forensic analysis while generating enough revenue to fund the continued operation of the laboratory system.”
DPS said it will provide each department a voucher using state revenue which it can apply to some services. The value of vouchers have not been finalized.
State lawmakers insist they want to help lower property taxes but shifting part of the cost of the DPS crime labs to local law enforcement only creates a new financial burden for property owners.
The DPS crime lab budget this fiscal year is $74.6 million. Next fiscal year, which begins September 1, the budget will be $74.5 million which includes the $11.5 million dollars the state is expected to recoup from local agencies.