Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels announced new initiatives at a Statehouse news conference in April to bolster Indiana 's fight against methamphetamine, including placing IUPUI in a lead role to help reduce the backlog of drug cases at state police drug-testing laboratories.
Gov. Mitch Daniels announced in April new initiatives to bolster Indiana's fight against methamphetamine, including placing IUPUI in a lead role to help reduce the backlog of drug cases at state police drug-testing laboratories. Jay Siegel, director of IUPUI's new forensic science degree program, will coordinate faculty training and assist with defining a standard curriculum for an intern program at regional state police labs in Indianapolis, Fort Wayne, Lowell and Evansville.
Saying Indiana faces no more critical problem than the scourge of methamphetamine, Daniels said state police laboratories have been overwhelmed with the volume of evidence that needs to be analyzed, creating a logjam.
"Some arrestees have been let go because the evidence didn't come back in time," the governor said.
Several colleges and universities have volunteered to help with the problem, Daniels said, noting, "IUPUI has offered to take the lead with their new forensics program."
"What appears to make the most sense, starting out at least, is for faculty and students to provide extra help to the state police laboratories, helping clear the backlog and perhaps free up state police analysts to work on meth cases by working on other cases that are part of the backlog," Daniels said.
With a backlog of 7,500 cases, Daniels said the state will begin a pilot program with IUPUI and other colleges and universities that will allow faculty and students to work at state police drug testing facilities, including a new 70,000-square-foot state police lab in Indianapolis, to help reduce the glut of drug cases.
Jay Siegel, a nationally recognized expert on crime-science investigation and evidence collection who heads IUPUI's new forensic science degree program, will coordinate faculty training and assist with defining a standard curriculum and procedures to establish an internship program at regional state police labs in Indianapolis, Fort Wayne, Lowell and Evansville.
Carl Cowen, dean of the Purdue School of Science at IUPUI, joined Daniels at the Statehouse news conference. Noting IUPUI would be staring its new forensic sciences program this fall, he said, "The forensics program is hiring faculty and registering students right now. We expect to have students being trained who will be able to be interns during the summer."
Eric Lawrence, the state's director of forensic analysis, said the interns would be "a real advantage to the program. It's sort of a 'teach em, keep em' program. Part of our problems has been retaining people. A lot of our employees have been hired from forensic science programs outside the state of Indiana. We prefer to work closely with Indiana universities and keep these people here. Retaining employees is an effective way of dealing with backlogs."
Other initiatives announced by the governor were:
· Developing a "real time" reporting database between prosecutors and drug-testing labs to ensure dismissed criminal cases no longer clog the lab.
· Standardizing procedures for removing from homes and protecting children exposed to meth production.