BCI Crime Lab overwhelmed with opiate drug testing

LONDON, Ohio (WDTN) (AP) — The state crime lab that tests drugs for Ohio law enforcement agencies wants to get help from other labs to deal with increasing demand for testing amid the opioid epidemic.

BCI anticipates doing over 27,000 drug tests this year, nearly twice as many as in 2010.

BCI Superintendent Tom Stickrath told 2 NEWS his 32 chemists suit up daily to test some of the most deadly opioids taken off the streets.  He contributes some of the backlog to drug tests have become more complex and time-consuming as technicians sometimes deal with more hazardous, potent substances, such as the powerful painkiller fentanyl and potent animal tranquilizer carfentanil.

"The other day that I was talking with a chemist it was heroin mixed with cocaine mixed with two different types of Fentanyl all in one powder," Stickrath explained.

In 2010 - the lab tested almost 14,000 samples.

In 2017 - Stickrath said the lab is on track to test over 28,000.

Due to the high volume, Stickrath said, some cases can take months before getting tested.

"If it's the case that's awaiting a grand jury hearing or a trial for instance or if it's a death involved in the case then we handle those in what we call a rush case and we will try to get that out in a matter of days," Stickrath said.

To help with the backlog The Ohio attorney general requested $440-thousand to have some of the testing done in labs near Cincinnati and Cleveland to keep up with the demand.  The money is expected to come from criminal forfeiture funds and general revenue.

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