Aug 13, 2012 10:29 PM by Lupita Murillo
TUCSON - The Arizona Department of Public Safety lab analyzes 30,000 cases a year. There are four labs within the state that service the majority of law enforcement agencies. With the advent of DNA the labs have never been busier.
If you've been the victim of a property crime and DNA or finger prints were left behind chances are it's been submitted to the DPS lab for analysis. The question is when is it going to get tested? Vince Figarelli is the Superintendent of the crime labs in Arizona. "We prioritize our cases based upon the type of case so if a case is a violent crime it's going to go to the top."
At the bottom of the pile property crimes.
"So as those requests increased we've generated a back log of those types of cases."
It's the DUI's and drug cases that keep them the busiest. Each blood sample is tested for nine classes of drugs.
To speed things along, the lab purchased the Triple quad l-c m-s. The latest in forensic toxicology. "We use this instrument to analyze blood samples for very low levels of drugs."
Drugs such as Ambien and Lunestra.
"Those are prescribed at such a low dose that we needed new instrumentation to be able to analyze them at the level they're prescribed."
The sleep aid drugs have become an issue with dui's especially if they're not taken as prescribed.
So as the state continues to grow unfortunately so will the crime rate. The challenge for the DPS lab is to keep up with the caseload so they can help police put the criminals away and keep you safe.
There is some good news, after years of a hiring freeze due to the state's budget. Criminologists are currently being hired. This will hopefully help with some of the backlog.