Sparks City Council Meeting 9/28/2020 2:00:00 PM

Meeting Link:
Meeting Dial-in #: 1-669-900-6833 Meeting ID: 953 2916 6320

General Business: 9.2

Title: Consideration, discussion and possible approval to renew the Forensic Support Service Agreement (AC-5583) for fiscal year 2020/2021, with the Washoe County Sheriff's Office, in the amount of $689,500.
Petitioner/Presenter: Pete Krall, Chief of Police/Pete Krall, Chief of Police
Recommendation: Staff recommends approval of the Forensic Support Services Agreement in the amount of $689,500.
Financial Impact: $689,500 has been budgeted for FY21 with an actual cost of the same amount.
Total Costs: $689,500.00
Fund: General Fund    Account: 603120
Program: Detectives - Property & Evidence (091563)
Amount: $689,500.00    Budget Status: Budget Exists
Budget Correction Plan:
This is budgeted in FY20 approved budget
Business Impact (Per NRS 237):
A Business Impact Statement is not required because this is not a rule.
Agenda Item Brief:

City Staff recommends renewing the Forensic Support Services Agreement (AC-5583) with Washoe County in the amount of $689,500. The City contracts with Washoe County for access to and use of the County's full service forensic laboratory. The capabilities provided by the forensic laboratory are critical to the performance and mission of the Sparks Police Department, but would be prohibitively expensive for the City to individually operate. The mutual arrangement provided for in the argeement has served the City well for more than 30 years. The contract value is an increase over the previous fiscal year but less than the County request of $885,113, plus an additional $50,000 for Toxicology services. That new total would be $935,113. 


The Washoe County Sheriff's Office Forensic Science Division provides full forensic services to local, state and federal law enforcement agencies. The Division is a full-service forensic laboratory staffed by more than 40 individuals in sworn and civilian capacities. The Division provides investigative support with a full-service crime unit. The scientific disciplines consist of DNA, Toxicology, Controlled Substances, Firearms and limited trace evidence analysis.  The Breath Alcohol Section also proves support for the breath alcohol instruments across Northern Nevada.

The City began contracting forensic services with Washoe County in 1988 when the Washoe County Sheriff's Office first opened the crime lab.  The service agreement has been renewed yearly, or in several cases on multiple year terms since the first agreement in 1988.  The initial agreements called for annual increases not to exceed 3% each year.  The cost of forensic services, especially in the field of DNA technology, increased more rapidly than the contract allowed for.  New terms have historically been negotiated between the Sparks Chief of Police and the Washoe County Sheriff.  In an effort to make up difference between actual costs and billed costs, former Sparks Police Chief Keefer negotiated with Washoe County Sheriff Haley a fixed dollar amount increase of $35,000 per year.  Costs continued to outpace increases and the amount was re-negotiated between Sparks Chief Allen and Washoe County Sheriff Allen at an annual increase of $50,000.

Washoe County has experienced increased costs associated with operating the Crime Lab. According to a February 4, 2020 letter our use of the Crime Lab for a 3 year average is 16.24% of the work produced by the lab. Their total budget is $5,447,761.

Currently, the City of Reno has a shared services agreement dating back to 1990, so they do not receive a bill from the Sheriff's Office for Forensic Servies per se. This entire process is intended to bring transparency and equity to this process and service so that all parties involved would be contributing appropriately.


The Sparks Police Department does not maintain a forensic science division/section/unit.  Costs to establish a full service lab would be prohibitively high.  The Washoe County Sheriff's Office Forensic Science Division performs evidence collection and laboratory analysis for an array of services.  These services are many times required as "call outs" from the Sparks Police Detective Section on a 24/7 basis. The Forensic Science Division is commonly requested by Sparks Police Detectives for homicides, sexual assaults, child abuse or death, child sexual assault, suspicious deaths, shootings, stabbings, officer involved shootings, traffic accidents involving death or significant injuries, or any major felony.  Officers also submit for DNA analysis on a variety of property crime cases such as residential and/or vehicle burglary. Further, expert testimony regarding these services and laboratory results by Washoe County staff are required in court for the successful prosecution of these critical cases.

The service provided by the Washoe County Forensic Science Division is mission critical to the efficient operation of the Sparks Police Department.


1. Council may approve the renewal of this agreement as submitted.

2. Council may deny the renewal and provide further direction to the City Manager.

Recommended Motion:

I move to approve the renewal of Forensic Support Services Agreement (AC-5583) with the Washoe County Sheriff's Office and ratify the $689,500 expenditure.

Attached Files:
     Crime Lab Services--Option A.pdf
     Forensic Contract Letter.pdf
     Crime lab Fee Review v4.pdf
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