Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2018, $222,610)
Mirroring trends seen nationwide, Austin is experiencing a drastic increase in the possession, delivery and use of opioids. Between 2006 and 2016, the rate of opioid overdose deaths in Travis County nearly doubled, increasing from 4 deaths per 100,000 residents in 2006 to 7.5 deaths per 100,000 residents in 2016. Recognizing the interdependence of our lab personnel and sworn officers in the fight against the opioid epidemic, the City is proposing to safely reduce the drug chemistry backlog through forensic analyzers (field and bench) and protective gear. Our planned approach is two-fold: we will increase safety and expediency both on scene and in the lab.
With this application, the City of Austin requests funding to purchase supplies and equipment and provide regional training for law enforcement and forensics professionals.
This program, which takes a collaborative approach to maximizing impact and ensuring cost effectiveness, will significantly improve the quality and timeliness of forensic services while addressing the opioid crisis. The City anticipates that full funding for this 1-year program will result in a 95% reduction in sample turnaround as well as the elimination of casework backlogs within the APD Crime Lab Chemistry Section. Targeted training will build shared knowledge of best practices related to investigating and processing opioid cases and will enable staff to more quickly and safely complete their work.