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Crime and Courts

Regional Forensic Science Center Expanding Opioid Testing


The Regional Forensic Science Center is getting new equipment to help identify opioid drugs that are circulating in south-central Kansas.

Sedgwick County commissioners voted Wednesday to accept a $155,017 federal grant to pay for the machine. The Wichita-based crime lab will use the new device to streamline testing processes and reduce analysis time.

Tim Rohrig, director of the Regional Forensic Science Center, says the equipment will target the opioid abuse problem.

“Most importantly, we are going to use this to expand our opioid testing panel to verify that we do not have a bunch of new opioids coming into our community,” Rohrig says.

Sedgwick County Sheriff Jeff Easter says opioid abuse is growing, but it is not yet at a crisis level in south-central Kansas. He says methamphetamine addiction is driving the drug crisis and related crime increase in Sedgwick County.

Easter says 73% of inmates at the Sedgwick County Jail have a substance abuse issue.

Sedgwick County added a full-time substance use disorder community collaborator position to the sheriff’s office earlier this year. The coordinator is a liaison between law enforcement, the criminal justice system and community partners that provide drug treatment services.

Kansas’ two other crime labs, the Kansas Bureau of Investigation in Topeka and the Johnson County sheriff’s criminalistics laboratory in Olathe, will also receive funding to improve quality and timeliness of forensic science and medical examiner services.

Follow Deborah Shaar on Twitter @deborahshaar. To contact KMUW News or to send in a news tip, reach us at news@kmuw.org.