Outsourcing drug testing would save city $91,000 

In the wake of a scandal at the Police Department crime lab, a proposal by Mayor Gavin Newsom to outsource drug testing would save about $91,000 a year, but the union representing lab workers is fighting it.

Testing drug evidence before trials had cost The City about $717,570 annually, but sending it off to private companies would be about $626,448, according to a controller’s report to be released Monday.

The savings is important because Newsom isn’t allowed to send union duties to private companies unless there are significant savings, according to a ballot measure passed in 1976.

Kim Carter, a member of Professional and Technical Engineers Local 21 representing employees of the crime lab, has been speaking out against the outsourcing.

Every major city and county in the country has its own crime lab, she told the Police Commission recently.

“We should look within as to why there is a backlog of cases,” Carter said. “We believe that it’s because there is severe understaffing at the lab.”

The Police Department is considering reforms in the wake of the crime-lab scandal. Among them is sending more officers to the unit that handles internal affairs and disciplinary procedures.

Much of the scandal revolves around retired criminalist Deborah Madden. She has admitted to stealing trace amounts of cocaine from evidence samples at the lab, but she has not been charged with a crime.

bbegin@sfexaminer.com

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