End To Lab’s Federal Funds Means Higher County Costs

The Conroe Courier reports that federal funds have dried up for the SHSU Regional Crime Lab that conducts drug and alcohol tests for Montgomery County law enforcement:
The Sam Houston State University Regional Crime Lab, which is operated by the university’s College of Criminal Justice and located in The Woodlands, started taking evidence from five counties, including Montgomery, in November 2010. A $1.5 million federal grant got the lab up and running.

But those agencies using the lab had agreed to three years of federal funding, after which the lab would complete its transition to becoming self-sustaining through fees, said Assistant District Attorney Warren Diepraam, chief of the Vehicular Crimes Division for the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office.

Diepraam said District Attorney Brett Ligon and SHSU officials have asked U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady, R-The Woodlands, to help find additional federal funds to supplement the fees paid by agencies.

The Regional Crime Lab will continue to run the drug toxicology and blood-alcohol tests, but all controlled substance evidence tests now will be sent to the Texas Department of Public Safety lab in Austin. The average length of time for the Regional Crime Lab to turn around controlled substance tests is about two weeks, while the DPS lab can take up to nine months because of the volume of cases it gets from across the state, Diepraam said.

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