AUSTIN (KXAN) — According to a city memo, the new Forensic Science Department independent from Austin Police Department will be formally established by July 1.
Dr. Dana Kadavy, the director of the department, wrote to Austin Mayor Steve Adler and City Council members in the memo describing what the department has done to prepare for operating on its own out from under APD.
Austin City Council approved the move Feb. 4 and shifted the department’s budget, nearly $12 million, out of the APD budget. The department will have funding for nearly 87 full-time jobs.
Kadavy said the department has been focused on “identifying and maintaining the critical systems required for an independent department to provide forensic services.” There are 15 information systems the department relies on to function, and they’ve had access to those because they were part of APD. Now that they are separate, Kadavy said new agreements are just about done.
Kadavy said the agreements are required before the department can start its work, and all employees need to be onboarded with proper security training and access control.
In the long-term, Kadavy said the department will try to become classified as a criminal justice agency so it won’t have to be so dependent on agreements with APD. Kadavy said it would take anywhere from 18-24 months for that process to be completed.
“An independently operated forensic science department represents an important step toward rebuilding public trust in forensic services,” Kadavy wrote in the memo, “and well positions the City to provide impartial scientific and support services to the community and criminal justice system.”