Henderson County is teaming up with Kaufman County to get a quicker turnaround on drug tests.
Commissioners Court approved an interlocal agreement allowing the counties to share the cost of having the tests conducted by the Texas Department of Public Safety.
"This agreement is basically for a chemist to work our drug cases," Sheriff Botie Hillhouse said.
It's currently taking the county nine to ten months to get drug results from the crime lab. The county can not get an indictment on the alleged drug offender until the substance analysis comes back. The analysis informs authorities if the material being analyzed was indeed an illegal substance, but also the weight of the item.
"A lot of people are sitting in jail for 90 days and getting personal recognizance bond," Hillhouse said. "The cost of the county to have them sit there is a little over $2,800," Hillhouse said.
The county will pay $45,000, which is half the cost of the chemist, located in Tyler, who will be dedicated to Kaufman and Henderson County cases.
Many times an offender is released on a PR bond, then subsequently arrested on another charge.
County Attorney Clint Davis said the contract will also help the defense attorneys.
"The appellate courts have held on numerous occasions that it's malpractice for a defense attorney to plead a client to a felony drug charge without a drug test," Davis said. "A lot of these offenders may have other charges."
Davis said neither Henderson, nor Kaufman County wanted to pay entire bill for a chemist, which would be about $90,000 and the DPS didn't want to enter an agreement with both counties to spit the cost of the chemist.
"Kaufman County is actually the county that signed a contract with DPS," Davis said.
With the interlocal agreement between the counties in place, Henderson County will pay Kaufman County for the opportunity to share the services of the chemist.
The HCSO will pay the first fees out of seizure money. Next year, the item will be in the Sheriff's Department budget.