Nov 5, 2021 - News
TBI wants 40 new forensic scientists
The logo of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation on a red background
Image courtesy of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation wants Gov. Bill Lee to fund positions for 40 new forensic scientists who test crime scene evidence and maintain DNA records.

  • The agency is looking to chip away at long turnaround times that slow down cases.

Why it matters: TBI has grappled for years with a backlog in evidence processing. During a Thursday budget hearing, director David Rausch told Lee it has been a looming goal since he took the job in 2018.

What he's saying: "We continually hear … from the judges, from the prosecutors, from defense attorneys that they’re waiting on our evidence," Rausch said. "The only way to address it, frankly, is personnel."

By the numbers: The TBI budget request includes more than $10 million for 40 new scientists and 10 administrative positions in forensics.

  • Fourteen of the scientists would handle forensic biology evidence, including processing DNA in violent crimes and sexual assault cases.
  • The rest would focus on drug evidence, toxicology reports and DNA collection, among other things.

The big picture: Rausch said he hopes the new positions will bring the maximum turnaround time for evidence testing to 12 weeks.

Meanwhile: TBI also asked for nearly $3 million to expand its cybercrime division to accommodate a "dramatically increasing prevalence" in cases.

What's next: Lee will evaluate proposals from all state departments before announcing his budget plan next year.

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