MILWAUKEE -- The Wisconsin State Crime Laboratory analyzed more than 400 firearms cases in 2018 -- down from more than 700 in 2017, but the drop in cases had nothing to do with a drop in crime.
Unlike what we see on TV, crimes are not solved in an hour.
"The turnaround time for some evidences are longer than we want to see," said Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul.
In 2016, it took state analysts 119 days, on average, to complete one firearms case. Adding to the backlog -- the Madison unit closed when the only gun analyst retired. That moved all cases statewide to the one remaining lab in Milwaukee.
"It would take decades to try and culminate that experience," said State Sen. Chris Larson (D-Milwaukee).
Then in 2018, the turnaround time increased again -- when the two remaining analysts were pulled from the lab for training.
"It's going to mean that justice may be delayed in some cases," Kaul said.
The attorney general asked lawmakers for a nearly $1.9 million bump in funding in the next budget.
"We are talking about an issue that is important across the state," Kaul said.
That is money to increase wages to retain employees and to hire an additional 15 -- including two firearms analysts to reopen the Madison unit.
"The firearms unit for law enforcement is an invaluable tool and a resource to and for law enforcement around the state," said Maj. Anthony Burrell, superintendent of the Wisconsin State Patrol.
The additional dollars wouldn't put the Wisconsin lab on pace with any TV dramas, but the attorney general said he believes the additional resources would make justice a bit more swift.
The attorney general's budget request also included six additional technicians for the state's DNA labs. Remember, the state just cleared about 4,100 rape kits in 2018. The attorney general said he believes the extra staff would prevent that size of backload from happening again.