Crime lab drug test back­log forces de­lays in city tri­als

Baltimore Sun - - AROUND THE REGION -

The Bal­ti­more Po­lice De­part­ment ac­knowl­edged on Tues­day a back­log in its crime lab to an­a­lyze drugs seized dur­ing ar­rests, while the city’s Dis­trict Court said it is work­ing to im­ple­ment an ex­tended timetable for bring­ing certain cases to trial. Po­lice Com­mis­sioner Kevin Davis said po­lice have been col­lect­ing more com­plex types of drugs, with fen­tanyl cases ris­ing from just 0.3 per­cent of drugs an­a­lyzed three years ago to more than 8 per­cent. “It takes longer to an­a­lyze fen­tanyl,” Davis said. Kevin Kane, a spokesman for the ju­di­ciary, said cases in Dis­trict Court have his­tor­i­cally been set for a first trial date 30 days af­ter a de­fen­dant’s ar­rest. He said post­pone­ments are granted for a num­ber of rea­sons, in­clud­ing the de­fen­dant re­quest­ing ad­di­tional time to get an at­tor­ney or the un­avail­abil­ity of a po­lice of­fi­cer or an­a­lyst. But Kane said the court has been work­ing to start an ar­raign­ment docket that will set the first trial date six weeks af­ter ar­rest, for in­di­vid­u­als re­leased on their own re­cog­ni­zance. An ar­raign­ment would oc­cur one week af­ter the ar­rest. “De­tained in­di­vid­u­als will con­tinue to re­ceive court dates within 30 days,” he said. The new sys­tem will be­gin in about two weeks.

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