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Monday, May 19, 2014

Ind. Gov't. - So what is the status now of the state toxicology lab?

There were a number of stories in March of 2012 on "the continuing brouhaha over the state Department of Toxicology and the veracity of its results," including this March 30, 2012 ILB post, which appears to be the most recent post on the topic. (Here is the entire list of ILB posts including the word "toxicology," including several recent, related Court of Appeals opinions.)

Saturday the Indianapolis Star published a long, front-page story by Mark Alesia reports that problems still exist. It begins:

It’s been two months since Colts owner Jim Irsay was pulled over on suspicion of driving while impaired, and still no formal charges have been filed.

And there may be a simple reason.

While law enforcement officials decline to discuss Irsay’s specific case, the blood draws conducted by the Carmel Police Department are tested by the Indiana Department of Toxicology, which has struggled for years to implement reforms, and has a current backlog of eight months for drug testing.

The delays are because the department has not had a stable staff for years, and its caseload grew from 5,960 in 2012 to 6,690 last year.

That doesn’t necessarily mean Irsay’s blood draw results won’t be ready for another six months, however. The department does expedite certain cases when requested. But the backlog shows that problems have lingered at the department since a 2011, when an Indianapolis Star investigation revealed testing errors and dysfunction.

In fact, evidence of its past troubles are visible throughout the agency’s offices on 16th Street today. Stacked in various places are boxes containing EC/IR II alcohol breath testing machines, and their accompanying printers.

The toxicology department purchased 250 of the devices more than four and a half years ago at a taxpayer cost of $1.5 million. Yet they have been sitting unused so long the warranty, which was extended once by the manufacturer, has run out. Only 40 have been deployed and 44 have been used for training.

Still, officials at the department, which was moved out of the Indiana University School of Medicine in 2012, say they are making progress at reform.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on May 19, 2014 09:24 AM
Posted to Indiana Government