North Dakota Can No Longer “Run Your Fingerprints”
Before you read this and decide to go on some wild crime spree, just remember you can still get cuffed and stuffed. Although prosecution is getting kinda tricky.
North Dakota Can No Longer "Run Your Fingerprints"
Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem recently spoke with the Bismarck Tribune regarding the declining number of employees at the State Crime Lab in Bismarck. The culprit? Higher salaries are offered elsewhere in the country. Why keep your job in North Dakota when you can get paid $30,000 more a year in Georgia?
The State Crime Lab forensic scientists' annual salaries range from $48,000 to $85,704.
Given the opportunity, I think we would gravitate to the $85,000 end of the scale. So that's what they're doing. Five Crime Lab scientists have left just in 2021. That's a pretty intense turnover for a staff that barely numbered over 20. Staff shortages have led to the Crime Lab eliminating its firearms and latent fingerprints divisions.
Meaning if authorities have a gun with prints that they suspect was used in the commission of a crime, we currently don't have the crime lab resources to assist with the case. Stenehjem mentions that until recently the South Dakota lab was performing firearm analysis for North Dakota, but they too have become overwhelmed and are no longer assisting.
No firearms or latent fingerprint divisions mean the State has to hire from outside.
Hiring private experts comes with a price tag and its own set of issues. Getting an outside expert to be able to arrange a time to testify in court can be an expensive proposition. Is there no way to Zoom the court proceedings? I guess not.
With all the checks North Dakota State Government has been writing this year let's hope they include the $537,000 the Attorney General asked to be taken from the leftover Consumer Protection Relief Fund. They're looking to earmark that money to increase current lab salaries so more of our scientists aren't jumping ship.
North Dakota if you're looking for a blood-splatter crime scene expert get ahold of me. I've seen every Forensic Files TV episode at least twice.