Soon, the Department of Public Safety (DPS) will begin billing local police departments across Texas for any lab work done by the agency. The service used to be free but DPS is now charging in order to make up for budget cuts to its lab system made during the regular legislative session.
The rider attached to the DPS budget gives it the legal authority to charge, but local entities weren’t prepared for the change and will now have to adjust their own budgets.
Mark Wilson covers crime and justice for the Austin American-Statesman and says the local agencies are primarily concerned with the financial impact, but says it’s possible that the new fees could affect actual police work.
“I would imagine that there would be concerns with how evidence is gonna be handled and how it’s gonna be charged,” Wilson says.
Ultimately, though, Wilson says it’s likely DPS couldn’t sustain the free service over the long term, and this is a way for local agencies to chip in.
Written by Caroline Covington.