Austin City Council to vote to separate forensics lab from APD
AUSTIN, Texas - The Austin City Council is expected to vote next week on creating an independent forensics lab, thus separating it from the Austin Police Department.
The about $11.9 million to create a new Forensic Science Department will come from the $150 million that was cut from the APD budget as part of the city's fiscal year 2020-2021 budget approved last year.
Last August, officials said that certain APD functions and related funding of nearly $80 million would be moved out of APD over the course of the fiscal year. Those functions included Forensics Sciences, Communications/911 call center, strategic support, and internal affairs.
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"This is an important move for survivors of violence and harm in our community, and an important step for equal justice," said Council Member Greg Casar in a release. "It’s in the best interest of justice when forensic evidence departments are run by scientists. We never want a rape kit backlog again; we never want cases to be confused in our labs again. We want justice and transparency for all."
According to Casar's office, the vote will not eliminate any of the functions in the forensic lab but rather ensure that the lab is administered independently of the police department.
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According to the agenda for the Feb. 4 City Council meeting, the city council will vote to approve an ordinance to create the department, which would amend the FY 2020-21 APD operating budget to transfer out almost 87 full-time positions and ta about $11.9 million from the APD Decouple Fund which was originally for the positions and funding for the Forensic Science Bureau.
The ordinance would also amend the FY 2020-21 general fund budget to transfer those positions and funds to the Forensic Science Department.