Shaheen is Briefed at State Police Forensic Lab in Concord on Backlog of Heroin and Fentanyl Cases

The Senator’s visit follows her introduction of legislation to help forensic labs under enormous strain

November 06, 2015

(November 6, 2015 - Senator Shaheen meets with NH State Police Forensic Lab employees in Concord)

A high resolution version of this photo is available here.

(Concord, NH) At the New Hampshire State Police Forensic Lab this morning, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) discussed the backlog of seized heroin and fentanyl samples that require lab identification. The lab’s director, Timothy Pifer, led a tour of the lab in which Senator Shaheen spoke with lab employees and Colonel Robert Quinn. Earlier this week, Senator Shaheen introduced legislation that 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 to help labs deal with the backlog.

“The work done in this facility 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. My legislation would provide timely funding to forensic labs, like our state police lab here in Concord, that are doing incredibly important work, but are under enormous strain.”

The recent surge in the use of heroin, fentanyl and other “designer” drugs, has 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. New Hampshire’s forensic lab processes on average 750 cases per month, yet only has the capacity to complete roughly 500 of those cases.

Also this week, Senator Shaheen sent a letter to the Senate committee tasked with writing legislation to fund the federal government, calling for more resources to address the heroin and opioid abuse epidemic. Her letter comes the day after the President signed a bipartisan budget agreement into law which allows for additional investments in domestic federal programs.