The “CSI” Effect

The Westchester County Legislature, which is grappling with the same budget woes as everybody else, is looking to tighten the budgets of the District Attorney’s office and the Westchester County Lab, which does the forensic testing for local law enforcement.

County lawmaker José I. Alvarado, who chairs the legislature’s Budget & Appropriations Committee, shared plans today to cut $500,000 from the lab’s nearly $18 million budget by elminating three positions and reducing equipment, materials and supplies, expenses and interdepartmental charges.

In an email, Alvarado said that 80 percent of the lab’s workload is for the county’s 43 municipal police departments and the District Attorney’s office. County Legislator Vito Pinto, Chair of the Public Safety Committee, stressed the lab’s value and alluded to what many in law enforcement call the “CSI Effect,” referring to the TV show that centers on forensic science to solve crimes.

“In the last few years, juries are now demanding DNA to solidify cases in addition to more traditional evidence,” Pinto said. “That has added considerably to Labs workload.”

Alvarado’s email also said the District Attorney’s office plans to keep its staff at 205 employees, who will take on an expected increase in criminal and civil cases next year. The DA’s budget is $33 million, of which $7 million comes from state grants.

Rebecca Baker

Rebecca Baker joined The Journal News in March 2004. She covers Eastchester, Bronxville and Tuckahoe, and was previously the state and county courts reporter in Westchester County. In prior jobs, she covered the Town of Greenburgh and Rockland County government and politics. Before coming to The Journal News, she was a municipal reporter for newspapers in New Haven, Conn. and Warren, Ohio.