Crimewatch: Hays County Crimewatch: Hays County partners with AP - MyFoxAustin.com | KTBC Fox 7 | News, Weather, Sports

Crimewatch: Hays County partners with APD crime lab to speed up drug cases

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Drug cases are expected to go through the court system faster in Hays County, thanks to a new partnership with Austin Police.

On August 1, Laura Carroll became the newest chemist at the Austin Police Forensic Science Facility.

Carroll tests and identifies narcotics for the Hays County Sheriff's Office, San Marcos Police, Buda Police, and Kyle police.

Her position is paid for with forfeiture funds from the Sheriff's Office, San Marcos Police, and the Hays County District Attorney's office. Each agency pays $30,000.

It's expected to cut the turn around time for drug testing from one to two months down to just 19 days.

Sheriff Gary Cutler says the partnership will benefit his jail.

"The quicker we get the results back, the quicker the prosecutor and the defense attorneys get the results. We can move the case through the courts faster," Cutler said. "Because if we have cases that get hung up on not getting lab results, those inmates are still in my jail."

The Hays County jail has 362 beds. It's about 80 percent full.

The partnership was a year in the making. Travis County Sheriff's Office already has a similar agreement with APD'S Crime Lab. It funds a chemist position as well.

Soon, Hays County could take advantage of the crime lab's other services like the DNA lab and ballistics unit for a price. It's pending approval by the Austin City Council.

"They're going to be paying based on, in DNA, it will be a fee for service type situation. In firearm and latent prints, our staff would be doing work on overtime, so it doesn't take away from our staff's ability to do our own cases," said Bill Gibbens, manager of the Forensic Science Division.

Violent crimes in Hays County dropped 23 percent in 2011, compared to 2010. Hays County law enforcement hopes the new partnership will also yield some good numbers.

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