CHARLESTON — The West Virginia Attorney General's office and the West Virginia State Police announced a $1 million contribution Oct. 3 to accelerate the prosecution of drug offenders by providing much needed resources to reduce the state Forensic Laboratory’s backlog of drug identification tests.
The move continues Attorney General Patrick Morrisey’s pledge to fight drug abuse by eliminating the backlog. It follows an identical contribution last fall, increasing the total amount contributed to $2 million.
“I commend Col. (Jan) Cahill’s willingness to stand shoulder to shoulder in the fight against opioid abuse,” Morrisey said. “Another $1 million will be a tremendous boost toward eliminating the backlog. That helps every police officer and prosecutor in our state and demonstrates the cooperation needed to eradicate opioid abuse once and for all.”
“I want to thank and applaud Attorney General Morrisey and his office for this funding,” State Police Col. Cahill said. “This is a great partnership that Mr. Morrisey has recognized with the State Police. We really appreciate this and it will go a long way.”
Last year’s contribution of $1 million helped State Police hire additional analysts, offer overtime and purchase necessary equipment.
The State Police Forensic Laboratory examines drug seizures from every state, county and municipal police department in West Virginia. Its analysis equips prosecutors with the evidence needed to secure their strongest conviction and punishment. The backlog exacerbates crowding in the regional jails by affecting bail consideration for suspects and delaying exoneration for the innocent. Reducing that backlog promises to ease crowding and save counties on inmate costs, Morrisey said.
The $1 million was transferred from the office’s Consumer Protection Fund, reflecting the work of the State Police and keeping with the Attorney General’s recognition that from a consumer protection perspective, “there is no greater priority than fighting substance abuse.”