- Associated Press - Monday, December 1, 2014

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Budget cuts have prompted the Virginia Department of Forensic Science to reduce its analysis of gunshot residue and several other kinds of trace evidence.

On Monday, the department discontinued routine analysis of improvised explosive devices and trace evidence in what it called general chemical cases, including cosmetics and unknown liquids or pastes. It will continue to conduct chemical tests in cases involving meth labs, bank dye, pepper spray, tear gas, tapes, adhesives and other specified items, The Richmond Times-Dispatch (https://bit.ly/1valmLM) reported.

The agency limited gunshot residue testing to evidence from the hands of suspects in cases where someone was shot. It discontinued fiber and hair examinations requiring extensive searching for the items, such as from a vacuum cleaner bag, but other fiber and hair analysis will continue.

The Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police opposes the cuts, Executive Director Dana G. Schrad said.

“They’re concerned about how the expediency and quality of their investigations will be negatively affected,” she told the newspaper. “We’ve expressed our concerns to the secretary of public safety.”

The department hopes to save about $168,000 in the fiscal year that ends June 30. More savings are expected in the next fiscal year.

“We tried to target areas where the number of service requests we receive are lower than in other areas,” Linda C. Jackson, the department’s director, told the newspaper.

Jackson said the new restrictions are expected to reduce the number of anticipated gunshot residue, hair and fiber cases by half.

She said the types of hair/fiber and general chemical examinations targeted for cutbacks are the most time-consuming.

Earlier this month, the department announced that it will discontinue routine analysis of marijuana in simple possession cases without a court order. This change is effective Jan. 1.


Information from: Richmond Times-Dispatch, https://www.timesdispatch.com

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