WV AG, State Police Join Forces to Expedite Drug Offender Prosec - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

WV AG, State Police Join Forces to Expedite Drug Offender Prosecution

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CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) - West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and State Police Col. Jan Cahill announced a $1 million contribution Tuesday 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 the Attorney General’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. Cahill’s willingness to stand shoulder to shoulder in the fight against opioid abuse,” Attorney General 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.
 
Even with those improvements, earlier this year more than 40 law enforcement professionals from across West Virginia joined the Attorney General in urging the state Legislature to adequately address the crime lab backlog. Many said it remained a critical concern.
 
As such, the Attorney General believes it only makes sense to invest health care related settlements into solving West Virginia’s largest health care challenge – the substance abuse epidemic.
 
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.
 
A 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.
 
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.”
 
Tuesday’s announcement continues the Attorney General’s long-held promise that his office should return settlement monies to the state, while responsibly keeping enough resources to operate the Consumer Protection Division.
 
Since 2013, the Attorney General has returned more than $39 million to state coffers to fight substance abuse and help the state’s struggling budget.

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