Three members of Rockland’s state legislative delegation have urged Gov. David Paterson reconsider his decision to close the state police laboratory in Newburgh.
Law enforcement in Rockland, Westchester, Putnam, Orange, Dutchess and Sullivan counties depend on the laboratory for analysis on evidence for criminal cases and prosecutions. The lab has serviced the lower Hudson Valley for 31 years. Nearly 15 tro 20 years ago efforts by some to build a Rockland County forensic lab never got off the ground.
The Newburgh-based lab’s closure puts more work on the state police lab in Albany and would add another 90 minutes of travel if officers have to drive to the Albany to pick up or deliver evidence, instead of Newburgh, contend the trio of legislators – Sen. Thomas Morahan, R-New City, and Assembly members Ellen Jaffee, D-Suffern, and Kenneth P. Zebrowski, D-New City.
They also emphasize how much work the crime lab does for the region and Rockland law enforcement. In 2008, the laboratory handled analysis for 2,414 drug cases and 765 toxicology cases.
…Thomas Morahan Ellen Jaffee Ken Zebrowski
Below is a copy of the letter from the three lawmakers to Paterson, released to the public this week:
August 25, 2009
Governor David A. Paterson
Albany, NY 12224
State Legislators Protest Newburgh Lab Closure
Dear Governor Paterson,
We write today to ask you to reconsider the closure of the State Police Lab located in Newburgh, New York. While we recognize the financial situation the State is facing, closing this lab will, in the long-term, adversely affect residents of Rockland County and the Hudson Valley and greatly impair our county’s law enforcement agencies’ ability to protect those who live and work in Rockland County.
A study completed in 1972 found that more than one-third of drug evidence submissions to the New York State Police Laboratory System originated from the Mid-Hudson region. In response to the this demonstrated need, the Mid-Hudson Regional Crime Laboratory opened in 1978, and has, for the last 31 years, served law enforcement agencies in Rockland, Orange, Dutchess, Westchester, Sullivan, and Putnam Counties, as well as New York State Parole and Corrections, and various federal government agencies.
The regional need for this laboratory has not diminished since its inception. In fact, we can expect the need to continue to rise due to increased arrests and prosecution for drug and alcohol related-incidents, most of which require the expertise of the Mid-Hudson Regional Crime Laboratory. In 2008, this translated to 2,414 drug cases and 765 toxicology cases.
In addition, further taxing police departments’ already stretched resources by forcing officers to travel to Albany, an additional 90 minutes each way from Rockland County, will take officers out of the communities where they do the most good and have them traveling on the New York State Thruway for nearly an entire shift. This will inevitably impact scheduling for police departments and result in additional overtime pay – a burden to the taxpayers.
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