DPS Celebrates Forensic Science Week

September 18, 2020

AUSTIN – The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) is pleased to recognize the hardworking men and women of the DPS Crime Laboratory Service during National Forensic Science Week, which takes place from Sept. 20-26. The week is designed to highlight forensic science work at labs across the country.

There are 16 DPS crime labs that serve the state of Texas criminal justice system.

“We are extremely proud of our 621 forensic science professionals, and the work they do for law enforcement and the residents of Texas,” said DPS Director Steven McCraw. “Their efforts help convict criminals and eliminate people as suspects, using state-of-the-art equipment and techniques.”

Over the past year, there were several legislatively-mandated crime lab developments, including:

  • A program (HB 1399) was implemented to assist with unsolved cases through the collection of DNA samples from people arrested for certain felonies. These samples are then run through the CODIS (Combined DNA Index System) database to check for possible DNA matches to identify suspects.
  • Additional money was allocated to help improve turnaround times for processing sexual assault kits. Furthermore, the sexual assault evidence-tracking program, which allows sexual assault survivors to anonymously track or receive updates on the status of evidence, was brought online.
  • DPS received funding to purchase DNA equipment, and equipment for other forensic disciplines.
  • DPS helped develop a new process for determining the THC content in plant-based material in order to differentiate between legal hemp and illegal marijuana.
  • DPS labs now conduct fire debris analysis. Evidence is brought to the lab and tested to determine if traces of accelerants are present.
  • Funding was approved to hire 20 forensic scientists to specifically work on blood alcohol toxicology for DWI cases at eight labs across the state.

Due to COVID-19, DPS crime labs will not be open for tours this year; please watch the DPS Facebook and Twitter pages for features and photos throughout the week.

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