AUSTIN (KXAN) - Despite a backlog of cases, the Austin Police Department forensic lab will begin testing cases from Hays County.
Hays County agencies will pay fees to the APD lab to have forensic evidence examined. The testing will include DNA, firearms, drug, and latent prints.
"This is the first time we have offered this to an external entity," said Bill Gibbons, the forensic services manager for APD.
Gibbons said the extra workload will not slow down APD cases because overtime hours will be used for Hays County testing.
The fees paid from Hays agencies will pay for the overtime wages.
"It doesn't take from our case work and it doesn't cost the city of Austin money," said Gibbons.
A spokesperson with the Hays County District Attorney's Office told KXAN that even with the fees, using the APD lab would save money in the long run.
Hays County has been using the Department of Public Safety lab which services more than 200 counties in Texas. That leads to big backlogs and the longer a case waits to be tested, the more it costs.
The DA's office estimated that cases taking nearly three months to process in the DPS lab would be finished in almost two weeks using the APD lab.
The demand for forensic evidence is growing according to Gibbons who says good science can crack and close cases.
"(Jurors) would rather rely on tangible forensic testimony as opposed to eyewitness testimony."
Under the agreement, Hays County would pay $55 an hour for firearms analysis, $36 an hour for latent print analysis, and up to $550 for DNA analysis.
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