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The Latest: Consultant finds multiple shortcomings at labs

September 18, 2018

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The Latest on testing delays at Wisconsin’s crime labs (all times local):

11:20 a.m.

A consultant has discovered multiple shortcomings at Wisconsin’s crime labs.

Attorney General Brad Schimel hired Florida International University’s National Forensic Science Technology Center in June to review operations at the labs as they continue to struggle with processing delays. Schimel released the center’s report Tuesday.

The center recommended Schimel move the labs out from under the state Justice Department’s Division of Law Enforcement because the current alignment invites questions about the labs’ integrity.

The labs’ performance metrics are confusing for staffers, the DNA units each need at least three more analysts and the labs aren’t following their evidence acceptance standards, resulting in analysts undertaking cases they shouldn’t be working.

Turnover is such a problem that labs are in a constant state of training, which takes trainers off casework.

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10:20 a.m.

Attorney General Brad Schimel wants an additional $1.6 million in the next state budget to hire more than a dozen more state crime lab employees.

Testing delays have plagued the labs for years as police submit more evidence in hopes of developing suspect DNA profiles and other leads.

Schimel submitted his 2019-2021 budget request to Gov. Scott Walker’s administration Monday. He asks for $1.6 million over the biennium to fund 14 additional full-time positions in the labs. The positions include forensic specialists, crime scene responders and a digital forensics unit.

Schimel also asked to create a pay progression for lab analysts to improve retention. The state Justice Department would absorb the initial costs.

He also wants to place the labs under the control of a new forensic sciences division.

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