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Amid Escalating Opioid Crisis, BCI Launches New Drug Testing Lab In Springfield

Bureau of Criminal Investigation lab Springfield clark county court drug evidence police sheriff jail fentnyl heroin opioids
WYSO/Jess Mador

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, along with officials from Clark County and the city of Springfield, Tuesday unveiled a new Bureau of Criminal Investigation lab in downtown Springfield.

The lab will be dedicated to testing drug evidence seized by law enforcement agencies in Clark County and statewide. Officials say it will be staffed by two highly trained and experienced drug-chemistry scientists, who will test complex combinations of drugs, including heroin, fentanyl, and other synthetic street opioids.

DeWine says the new lab is critically needed to alleviate the growing backlog of drug evidence slowing down the court system. In Clark County, officials say the backlog currently delays drug testing for several months.

“Fighting the drug epidemic has been and continues to be one of our top priorities in the attorney general’s office. This lab in Springfield really is a tool, another tool in this fight.”

Fentanyl and other opioids have been blamed for a sharp rise in drug-overdose deaths across the Miami Valley this year. Clark County officials say the new lab will help speed evidence testing to get more high-risk addicts into treatment before they overdose again.

Statewide, the Bureau of Criminal Investigation has drug chemistry units at its three other crime laboratories located in London, Richfield and Bowling Green.

To handle the increasing number of complex opioid evidence submissions, Attorney General DeWine recently authorized the expansion of the drug chemistry unit by adding an additional six new scientist positions.

In 2016, Bureau of Criminal Investigation scientists statewide reported 5,768 cases involving heroin, 2,396 cases involving fentanyl, and 214 cases involving carfentanil.

The London, Richfield, and Bowling Green laboratories are accredited by the American National Standards Institute-American Society for Quality (ANSI-ASQ) National Accreditation Board.

Officials say the Springfield laboratory will follow the Bureau of Criminal Investigation current accredited policies and will be assessed for its own accreditation in 2018.

Jess Mador comes to WYSO from Knoxville NPR-station WUOT, where she created an interactive multimedia health storytelling project called TruckBeat, one of 15 projects around the country participating in AIR's Localore: #Finding America initiative. Before TruckBeat, Jess was an independent public radio journalist based in Minneapolis. She’s also worked as a staff reporter and producer at Minnesota Public Radio in the Twin Cities, and produced audio, video and web stories for a variety of other news outlets, including NPR News, APM, and PBS television stations. She has a Master's degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in New York. She loves making documentaries and telling stories at the intersection of journalism, digital and social media.
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