INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -
The state’s agency for drug and alcohol tests in criminal cases has an
eight-month backlog, although its director says it is making changes that
should improve its performance.
Department of Toxicology has struggled with staff turnover and other
troubles before it was moved out of the Indiana University School of
Medicine in 2012. Its caseload grew from nearly 6,000 tests in 2012 to
almost 6,700 last year.
Agency Director Ed
Littlejohn told The Indianapolis Star he believes changes are taking hold
since he started leading the department two years ago.
“When I took this
position, I felt it would be three to five years before this agency was
going to be where I felt it should be,” he said. “I think we’re doing a lot
of positives, but you’re not going to change everything overnight. It takes
Indianapolis Star investigation showed that 10 percent of positive marijuana
tests and almost one-third of positive cocaine tests from 2007 to 2009 were
not conducted using accepted scientific standards.
The state retested
800 samples reported as positive for marijuana or cocaine, and reported 30
percent had no trace of either substance. There was disagreement, however,
about the significance of the findings. The samples might have changed in
the years after the original test.
The troubles led to
the ouster of then-director Mike Wagner, who later said he was a scapegoat
for trying to bring rigorous science to the department.
much work remains before reaching the goal of a 15-day turnaround for
alcohol testing and completing drug tests in 30 days.
“We’re probably not
going to make that goal this year. But that’s what we’re striving for,” he
he’s adding three more forensic scientists. That would still leave the
office one short of full staffing.
In the meantime,
the department is relying on outside businesses to conduct much of its drug
testing, which requires more time.
concern,” Littlejohn said. “That’s why we’re still doing outsourcing. I’m