June 15, 2017

Shaheen, Hassan Introduce Legislation to Address Heroin and Fentanyl Backlog at Police Forensic Labs

**Increase in heroin, fentanyl and synthetic drug use has put enormous strain on New Hampshire’s Forensic Lab and the police departments that depend on it**

WASHINGTON– U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) introduced legislation to help the state police forensic lab in New Hampshire and other labs across the country that are dealing with a dramatic increase in the number of drug seizures requiring lab identification. The surge in the use of heroin, fentanyl and other synthetic drugs has increased both the volume and complexity of identifying narcotics, which has dramatically increased demands on police crime labs, including in New Hampshire. As a result, police crime labs have been overwhelmed by requests for testing, often exceeding lab capacity and creating backlogs of untested samples. Police departments in New Hampshire report that test results can take several months, which can complicate investigation and prosecution efforts. This legislation would establish a grant program to help forensic labs around the country keep pace with their caseloads.

“The New Hampshire State Police Forensic Laboratory is indispensable to our state’s efforts to combat the opioid epidemic,” said Shaheen. “Testing backlogs can delay law enforcement efforts to shutdown drug trafficking networks and get drugs off our streets. It’s critical that New Hampshire’s law enforcement on the frontlines of this crisis have the resources they need to mount an effective response, and our legislation would provide much needed funding to the forensic labs that are under enormous strain.”

“The New Hampshire State Police Forensic Laboratory is critical to our efforts to seize illicit drugs and prosecute drug dealers,” said Senator Hassan. “Forensic labs across America are under increasing strain as the result of the heroin, fentanyl, and opioid crisis, and this bill will authorize much needed funding to reduce the testing backlog and support the work of state forensic labs.”

New Hampshire’s forensic lab takes in 750 cases per month, on average, yet only has the capacity to complete roughly 600 of those cases. The Senators’ legislation would authorize $10 million per year through the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program to be used for police forensic lab staff, equipment and overtime. The legislation also allows police departments to use these grants for additional field testing equipment. Sen. Shaheen first introduced this legislation in the 114th Congress.