DPS to Charge for Forensic Work

Policy to go into effect on Sept. 1

DPS to Charge for Forensic Work
Photo by Gregg Cox

The Lege stays at it. Thanks to Rider 58 from the recently finalized state budget, beginning Sept. 1 the Department of Public Safety will begin charging law enforcement agencies for forensic analysis services. The agency announced on July 20 that the General Appropriation Act directs it to collect "up to $11,540,852 in fees" for alcohol and toxicology analysis ($75 per sample for alcohol, $150 for toxicology), controlled substances ($75-150 per sample), and DNA testing ($550 per case).

DPS Press Secretary Tom Vinger told the Chronicle that the agency was not consulted on the change in funding, but developed a plan "as soon as we were able to determine the necessary course." According to the letter DPS Director Steven McCraw sent to state law enforcement agencies, DPS is finalizing another plan to minimize the cost to law enforcement while "generating enough revenue to fund the continued operation" of lab services. Under this plan, the agency intends to provide a voucher (using state appropriations) to criminal justice agencies across the state to help cover the cost of forensic testing. The voucher value has yet to be determined, but is expected to be made public prior to the fee implementation.

Travis County District Attorney Margaret Moore expressed her disappointment on the nightly news last week, noting that taxpayers will now be responsible for an additional $220,000 to get cases to trial. Locally, the burden of ironing out this added expense will fall on county commissioners. The fee change will not affect the Austin Police Department's contract with DPS to help test APD's evidence backlog due to the closure of their forensic lab last June, but will affect the Travis County Sheriff's Office as well as other smaller and rural agencies who've long relied on DPS for free testing.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Department of Public Safety
About That DPS Cutback
About That DPS Cutback
So, when can you get your license these days?

Michael King, June 16, 2017

More by Sarah Marloff
Amy's Army Raises Awareness, Support for Sexual Assault Survivors
Amy's Army Raises Awareness, Support for Sexual Assault Survivors
New social media campaign calls for meaningful reform in local criminal justice system

May 7, 2021

Travis D.A. Announces New Policies to Support Rape, Abuse Survivors
Travis D.A. Announces New Policies to Support Rape, Abuse Survivors
D.A.’s Office commits to culture change to aid access to justice

Feb. 26, 2021

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Department of Public Safety, Steven McCraw, Margaret Moore

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle