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More details on the city’s crime lab plan

It’s starting to come into focus.

An independent crime lab could cost nearly 20 percent more than the current police-run operation, a high-level Parker administration official told a City Council committee this week.

Andy Icken, the mayor’s chief development officer, who is overseeing the project, said the annual budget of $22.8 million could rise to $27 million in its first years after its separation from the police department as it attempts to tackle a backlog of thousands of untested rape kits.

I don’t know about you, but I’d consider it money well spent to reduce that backlog of untested rape kits. As noted in the story, the crime lab isn’t being touted as a money-saver, but obviously the price tag is always an issue. I would think that as long as future costs are not projected to rise too much, this should not be insurmountable.

On Monday, Icken and [City Attorney David] Feldman unveiled what the board would look like. It would have five members: someone who understands the judicial system, someone with law enforcement experience, a criminal defense attorney, a forensics expert and someone with a finance background.

The Parker administration is looking for those people now and plans to come to the council in April with the local government corporation plan and five board nominees.

This structure would still allow the city to join forces with the county in their spiffy new building if the governance issue can be resolved to everyone’s satisfaction. Since the county’s lab has excess capacity, if not an excess of cash, that might help reduce that rape kit backlog faster, which in turn might help keep the cost down. I have to believe the city and county will eventually work that out – it just makes too much sense not to. Stranger things have happened, though.

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