MILWAUKEE -- The Wisconsin State Crime Lab is busy. Officials say the demand for the testing of firearms, drugs and DNA is up across the board. Not because crime is up, but the collection of evidence is. FOX6's Jenna Sachs sat down with Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel Thursday, August 31st to talk about the changes to come.
"When you see those kinds of increases you can't just stay the course," said Schimel.
Submissions to the Wisconsin State Crime Lab are up dramatically, nearly 50 percent from 2015 to 2016.
"It's good news because it means law enforcement is collecting evidence in more cases to hold more criminals accountable," Schimel said.
Schimel is authorizing overtime pay for 65 crime lab analysts.
"For those analysts who want to work some extra hours pull in some extra money, that's a great opportunity for them and I get to clear more cases," Schimel said.
Schimel says overtime is preferable to hiring more analysts because training is expensive and takes a long time.
"I won't start using those analysts for a year-and-a-half. This way it's right now, it's shovel ready," said Schimel.
The lab is also creating a new forensic biology unit to do casework that doesn't require a certified DNA analyst. And it's looking to hire part-time members for the lab's crime scene response team.
"They've been very busy, just yesterday alone, three of our crime laboratories across the state had a crime team deployed," said Nikki Roehm, crime lab deputy bureau director.
Schimel says these changes will also speed up the testing of DNA rape kits for both new cases and those shelved by law enforcement until recently.
Money for the overtime and new jobs will come from the crime lab surcharge paid for by convicted criminals.
"We can do this with existing money from people who are being convicted for criminal activity," Schimel said.
The state is looking to hire six people for its new forensic biology unit and five people for its crime scene response teams. Those five people will be located throughout the state. Those jobs will be posted immediately.