Wise County sheriff to charge DPS for housing state inmates

Wise County Sheriff Lane Akin
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Throughout three decades in law enforcement, there isn't a lot Wise County Sheriff Lane Akin hasn't seen.

At least that was until he read a new Texas Department of Public Safety directive a few days ago.

"No one really knew it was coming," says Akin, who became sheriff in 2016. 

A new policy that goes into effect September 1 requires local county and city law enforcement departments to now pay to use the state crime lab in Austin.

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"For us, we estimate it will cost from $60,000 to $100,000," says Akin.

The cost especially irks the sheriff because he spent decades as a DPS trooper & also with the Texas Rangers before moving to the sheriff's office.

"The whole idea is to be partner agencies," he says.

To offset the costs, Akin is suddenly proposing Wise County start charging DPS at least $50 a day to house inmates arrested by DPS troopers.

"We have Highway 287 here, so there are a lot of drug busts," says Akin, noting that often when DPS brings in those suspects, they can spend months in his jail because of the complexities in felony drug cases.

DPS said in a brief statement on Wednesday that they understand the concerns, and are willing to talk to local departments about the changes.

The agency announced the new policy after the legislature recently passed a law that said DPS needs to collect more than $11 million for the use of toxicology, DNA and forensic analysis tests. 

Akin says county commissioners will still need to approve his plan, but so far, it sounds like he has support. And other sheriffs are likely to follow suit.

"I've gotten phone calls, comments on Facebook and talked to almost every sheriff on 380," says Akin.

In fact, a Facebook post is where he first voiced his frustration. It has been shared close to 230 times as of Wednesday evening. 

The new fees and possible jail charges are expected to be the big topic at this weekend’s annual Sheriffs' Association of Texas Conference in Grapevine.