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Cop Watch: Local Police Depts Have to Pay for Crime Lab Testing Now

Times are tight and getting tighter, so counties across the State of Texas are finding all sorts of ways to cut costs.  Here in Dallas, that means something to the criminal defense bar and prosecutors alike because who’s footing the bill for testing of DNA, firearms, blood, etc.  has changed.

The Dallas County District Attorney’s Office isn’t going to pay for everyone’s crime lab tests anymore.

Before now, if a prosecutor ordered a lab test, Dallas County paid for it.  However, the Commissioners for Dallas County — looking at a $60 million shortfall in the budget — instructed all departments in the county to cut their departmental budgets by 10 percent.  

This edict has trickled down to impact every criminal defendant in the county — because all the tests being done by the county crime lab, the Southwest Institute of Forensic Sciences, will have to be paid for by the police departments involved in the arrest or investigation.   

What Will This Mean for Local Police Departments?

Police department budgets are just as stretched as everyone else’s — and suddenly, they’ve got to take on costs that for years they’ve been relying upon Dallas County to cover.   Surprise, surprise.  Reportedly, law enforcement will not be required to pay in advance for lab tests but they will have to enter into an agreement to pay the fee.

The Reality Is That There’s Gonna Be Less Lab Tests Run

What does this mean to the accused?  Probably less testing.  Lab tests aren’t going to be done unless absolutely necessary because of these cost cuts. 

This is Going to Hurt People

And, innocent people will be wrongfully accused because lab tests haven’t been done to rule them out.   We all know this is going to happen. 

Of course, it’s not as if the lab tests that are done by the crime labs are really trusted, anyway.  For details on how inaccurate and biased the crime lab results can be, check out Grits for Breakfasts’ discussion of the Houston Crime Lab.

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