Shaheen Announces Legislation to Address Heroin & Fentanyl Backlog at Police Forensic Labs
Increase in heroin, fentanyl and designer drug use has put enormous strain on New Hampshire’s drug lab and the police departments that depend on itOctober 30, 2015
(Washington, DC) – Today, Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) announced plans to introduce legislation to help the state police forensic lab in New Hampshire and other labs across the country that are dealing with a dramatic increase in the number of drug seizures requiring lab identification. The recent surge in the use of heroin, fentanyl and other “designer” drugs, have increased both the volume and complexity of identifying narcotics, which has dramatically increased demand on police crime labs, including in New Hampshire. As a result, police crime labs have been inundated with requests for testing, often exceeding lab capacity and creating backlogs of untested samples. Police departments in New Hampshire report that test results can take several months, which can complicate investigation and prosecution efforts. Senator Shaheen intends to introduce legislation next week that would establish a grant program to help forensic labs around the country keep pace with their caseloads.
“New Hampshire’s Forensic lab is indispensable in our state’s battle with the heroin and opioid abuse epidemic,” said Shaheen. “This testing backlog can delay law enforcement efforts to get dangerous criminals and drug traffickers off our streets. It’s critical that the federal government respond to the needs of law enforcement on the frontlines of this crisis, and this legislation would provide timely funding to these forensic labs that are under enormous strain.”
New Hampshire’s forensic lab takes-in on average 750 cases per month, yet only has the capacity to complete roughly 500 of those cases.
Senator Shaheen’s legislation would authorize $10 million per year through the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program to be used for police forensic lab staff, equipment and overtime. The legislation also allows police departments to use these grants for additional field testing equipment. Senator Shaheen will introduce this legislation when the Senate reconvenes next week.
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