DPS Highlights Achievements During National Forensic Science Week

September 15, 2023
National Forensic Science Week

AUSTIN – The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) is proud to recognize the hardworking men and women of the DPS Crime Laboratory Division during National Forensic Science Week, which takes place from Sept. 17-23. The week highlights the critical forensic science work taking place in labs across the country, including the 16 accredited DPS crime labs that serve the state of Texas.

“The DPS Crime Lab Division does groundbreaking work that impacts the lives of Texans every day,” said DPS Director Steven McCraw. “Their hard work makes it easier for law enforcement officers, prosecutors and defenders across the state to do their jobs and it improves the public’s safety – that is a win for all of us.”

This year, the DPS Crime Laboratory Division is celebrating several achievements from the past twelve months, including:

  •  Approximately 615 additional unsolved cases aided through HB 1399 (86th Legislature) which requires the collection of DNA samples from people arrested for certain felonies. The samples are run through the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) Laboratory in Austin and entered into a database to check for possible DNA matches between those arrestees and unsolved cases across the country.
  • Effective Sept. 1, 2023, House Bill 3956 (88th Legislature) mandates that booking facilities collect a DNA sample from all arrestees charged with a felony class offense occurring on or after Sept. 1, 2023. HB 3956 significantly expands upon HB 1399 so additional cases can be solved at the time of arrest, further enhancing public safety efforts.
  • Turnaround times for sexual assault kits (SAKs) remain under 90 calendar days for DPS labs across the state. Furthermore, the sexual assault evidence-tracking program continues to allow sexual assault survivors to anonymously track and receive updates on the status and progress of evidence. Aug. 31, 2023, marked the conclusion of the fourth year of statewide electronic sexual assault evidence (SAE) tracking in Texas.  40,367 SAKs are being tracked in Track-Kit.
  • DPS continues testing older SAKs that had previously never been submitted to a crime laboratory and had been stored, untested, in property rooms across the state. Since March 2022, DPS has completed 1,025 SAKs as part of this project.
  • The department continues to focus on maintaining a turnaround time of 30 calendar days or less (from the time of submission) for the analysis of blood alcohol content in driving under the influence cases. The 88th Legislature provided approximately $15 million for the next biennium to improve the turnaround time for the forensic analysis to detect the presence of drugs in biological samples (such as those from drivers and survivors of sexual assault).

In order to give Texans a closer look at DPS Crime Laboratory operations across the state, tours are available as part of National Forensic Science Week. An RSVP is required. Please contact the individual laboratory for tour times and availability in the following regions:  

North Texas Region

  • Garland – Tuesday 9/19
  • Tyler – Thursday 9/21 & Friday 9/22

Southeast Texas Region

  • Houston – Thursday 9/21

South Texas Region

  • Corpus Christi – Wednesday 9/20
  • Laredo – Thursday 9/21
  • Weslaco – Thursday 9/21

West Texas Region

  • El Paso – Friday 9/22 

Northwest Texas Region

  • Abilene – Friday 9/22
  • Amarillo – Tuesday 9/19
  • Lubbock – Thursday 9/21

Central Texas Region

  • Austin – Wednesday 9/20
  • Waco – Thursday 9/21

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