CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and West Virginia State Police Col. Jan Cahill announced on Tuesday the state Attorney General’s Office will transfer $1 million to the State Police in an effort to reduce the backlog at the Forensic Laboratory.
The funding will come from the office’s Consumer Protection Fund, which consists of money from settlements involving the state.
Morrisey said in a press conference the state has an accumulation of drug tests that are used to determine if suspects are connected to drug-related crimes.
“This is not of the fault of the State Police. They have been under-resourced,” he said. “When I think of the criminal justice system, it’s important to not only prosecute criminals, but exonerate individuals who are innocent.”
According to Forensic Laboratory Director Sheri Lemons, the backlog has resulted in reports taking up to 262 days to be provided to an investigator.
The $1 million will go toward hiring additional staff members for the laboratory’s drug, toxicology and DNA divisions.
Morrisey said fixing the problem means moving the cases through the Forensic Laboratory at a quicker faster, recognizing drug trends and providing alerts regarding drug trafficking.
“We have to make sure that our State Police is appropriately resourced and that they can do the job the public expects them to do,” he added.
The state Attorney General’s Office made a $1 million contribution in November 2016 for hiring additional analysts and purchasing necessary equipment.