State crime lab getting even slower at processing evidence
Florida's crime lab is getting even slower at processing forensic evidence as the state's top law enforcement agency continues "hemorrhaging" workers who leave to find better-paying jobs in other states or counties, state officials say.
In the latest quarterly performance reports, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement showed that in almost every category, the agency has gotten slower at processing evidence than it was in the previous quarter and demonstrably worse than a year ago.
Swearingen said the problem is clear: staff turnover. "We are losing lab analysts at an unsustainable rate," he said.
He blamed a "hemorrhaging" of lab analysts and their supervisors on low pay. In his formal budget request to the Legislature, Swearingen said he has lost 107 crime lab analysts and supervisors out of a staff of 297 in the last five years. He said almost forty percent of those who have left cited better pay at other labs.
FDLE analysts make just under $41,000 on average, according to the agency. That is nearly $20,000 less than what some county crime labs pay in Florida.
Replacing lost expertise is particularly difficult from the crime lab he said. It can take two years to fully train new workers, making it difficult to catch up on a worsening backlog of lab requests.